Will you leave a “toxic” inheritance?

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.
toxic mom toxic inheritance

You always wanted the best for your children. You probably still feel that way, even if one or more of your kids grew up and called you toxic. Moms and dads with estranged adult children struggle with decisions about estate planning. Should you leave things to them? According to the ideas of one money expert, an inheritance from estranged parents could do them more harm than good.

Toxic inheritance?

Margaret M. Lynch, author of Tapping Into Wealth, believes some money is toxic. She explains that money from sources you don’t feel good about drags you down. That could be income from a hated job, a career you feel guilty about, or something like gambling that takes time away from family or goes against one’s beliefs. Soured relationships also fit, so loaned, given, or inherited money could be considered be toxic. Inheritance can be toxic? Interesting. . . .

Parents, if your adult children no longer accept you—your values, politics, or whatever else—then, by Lynch’s standards, anything you leave to them could be considered a “toxic inheritance.”


The first time I heard of older folks learning to SKI was from a so called “toxic” mom who cracked a joke. Her two estranged adult children had decided they wanted nothing to do with her or their father. So, she and her husband were SKIing around the country in an RV.  I didn’t get it, so she explained:

S -pending



Since then, I’ve seen all sorts of blogs and articles reporting on this endeavor. There’s even a T-shirt!

That rejected mom laughed about SKIing, but saving estranged adult children from toxic inheritance is no joke. Freeing them from the emotional burden of a “toxic” inheritance may be worthy of consideration.

Toxic money isn’t the only thing rejected parents must consider. Our lives have a way of filling up with things.

toxic mom

Finding our treasures a home

We might have collected things our whole lives, imagining that one day our children would cherish them as much as we do. These days, even to adult children who remain close, our treasures may be viewed as little more than clutter. To our estranged children, it’s probably downright junk! Whether necessitated by downsizing or motivated by not wanting to leave a toxic mess for others to clean up when we’re gone, it’s wise to sift, sort, and trim down possessions while we can. Here’s a shortlist to get to you started.

  • Photographs and home movies. Have the sharpest ones digitized or ask who among relatives wants to preserve family history. Or, consider donating images and films of vacations to various city sites, State, and National parks to historical societies. Each society has its own criteria for fair use, so do your research. Draft and photocopy an inquiry letter, or create an email template, in which you plug specific names and addresses, then send it to organizations. One mother shared family photos of historical sites with local museums. At the very least, trim down your collection. Maybe you’re like Nanci. After 14 years of estrangement, she expressed feelings of glee when shredding old photos of her estranged son’s wedding—the last photos she has of him and her together before the years of separation began.
  • Valuable items. Antiques, Persian rugs, or artwork can be sold. If the idea of running ads and fielding calls doesn’t appeal, hire an estate service to come into your home and manage sales for you. When you receive the proceeds, reward yourself. Use the money to fund an exotic vacation, a trip to the spa, a stay at a lavish hotel, or for something else you’ve been wanting to try. Or, donate to a cause that’s important to you.
  • Fine China, silver, or flatware. Check with Replacements.com for possible sales. They specialize in customers wanting to complete their sets. Or, as one mother did, smash the dishes to bits! I’m not suggesting you destroy anything, but you could use the China pieces with their artistic motifs in crafts such as pretty garden art, jewelry or ceramics. In the spirit of new beginnings, maybe you end up opening an Etsy shop to sell the things you create—or offer them to existing Etsy artisans.
  • Donate. Take excess belongings to a local charity or use one that offers curbside pickup at your home. Most charities list on a website what they do and don’t take. You might be surprised—I recently took some new picture frames still in their original cellophane packaging to a donation site that turned them away. Also consider listing free items on Craigslist or Nextdoor. Upcycling is in, and no-contact, porch pickups have become routine.
  • Precious custom heirlooms or other special items. Diana always thought she’d pass her jewelry to her daughter. Many were commissioned for her by her late husband and are one of a kind. “The items won’t mean anything to my daughter,” says Diana. “She’d only sell them.” (Toxic treasure=toxic money.) Diana has no other family but has found an upscale jewelry restoration store that will buy them outright or sell them on consignment. “My exquisite jewelry will go to people who love it!” she says. “With the money, I’m taking one of those hiking vacations I always wanted to go on. And if there’s enough left over, I’ll get a walk-in tub installed.”

Getting serious about your estate

While the idea of SKIing is a semi-humorous way to look at the idea of leaving inheritance (and makes sense for some), for most parents, estate planning is serious business wrought with emotional landmines and distress. That’s especially true when estrangement is part of the family portrait.

Some of us have estranged adult children with mental health issues or disabilities, or we weigh their dismissal of us against our own sense of what’s right or wrong. We may think of our other adult children, the ones we have stable relationships with, and decide it would be unfair to them to reward a sibling’s bad behavior. Or, perhaps we consider how an inheritance might be viewed by an estranged adult and want to send a message with any gift or non-gift.

In Done With The Crying, end-of-life sections with a variety of scenarios and reflection questions help rejected parents think things through and make sensible decisions. The WORKBOOK: for Parents of Estranged Adult Children allows more room for expanded notes and brainstorming. In my newest book, planning for one’s demise is covered in a different but equally vital way. Beyond Done With The Crying: More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children will be available soon.

What about you?

After polishing up her toxic treasures and transforming them into a SKI trip that will bring her hiking vacation joy, Diana deserves a good soak. Will you SKI? Will you save estranged adult children from a “toxic inheritance”? Perhaps you figure an heir is an heir, regardless of behavior. Leave a comment and let other loving parents know what you’ve decided to do about estate planning. It’s an important topic.

Related reading:

Estate planning: Is the paperwork done?

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45 thoughts on “Will you leave a “toxic” inheritance?

  1. Beth

    Could I please be told why a post I left over a week ago has not shown up on the site whilst posts from others only a couple of days ago are already showing. Is there something unacceptable about my posts?

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Beth,

      You have asked twice now. This is the second time I have answered.
      Hi Beth,

      I see a comment from you left at the article “New estrangement research beats a dead horse.” It appears as a comment to that article.

      Sheri McGregor

  2. NANCI C.

    These comments make me feel so much better as I am in the process of finalizing my will and “disinheriting” all three of my daughters and one grandson with whom I have not spoken in almost 7 years. My question to all of you – have you advised your ES/D that they will not be receiving an inheritance or is that something that will be left to be discovered when you “cross over the bridge”? I don’t want a “fake” reconciliation because they don’t want to be left out – at the same time, I feel like they should be aware that there are consequences for their actions. What say you?

    1. Carrie-Ann

      Dear Nanci,

      Tread lightly…Take more time if “you” need it… Letting go is a “process.”
      “Consequences” may mean something completely different to them…like more opportunity for drama…possibly opening up a Pandora’s box…You might think about what your intention is in bringing it to their attention that “they should be aware that there are consequences for their actions.”
      How has that worked in the past?… (Past behavior is highly indicative of future behavior.)
      Also, you say, “I am in the process of finalizing my will and “disinheriting”…You might consider if bringing it all to their attention is “finalizing”…(Legal advice might be helpful.)
      Nanci, I support you in this process…Remember, bottom-line, you are doing this to protect yourself…and for the best consequences for yourself and your life…
      I Appreciate your sharing your thoughts, as many of us are reflecting & dealing with this very thing…
      In Gratitude & Friendship,

    2. Effie

      They have to be aware already… Mine do not even want their years of photos…and make comments how they hate antiques… on and on… I would never give them a clue to your intentions… They would probably turn it back on you somehow and think your motives were questionable. Maybe Someone else has some input but our adult kids are in a world of their own… It hurts and life is going by so fast and they will not know till they face their own aging… ( I just placed my parents in a nursing home) and started planning to accept that our kids will be much too busy to care about me then as well. I was considered a super mom and doting mom and here I am with estrangement with a daughter and the others are just too busy to care much. I am just rambling but stay strong..

    3. Workingonme

      Our estrangement began in Jan 2021 so pretty new. As of July I am reconciled to my son and DIL but my husband Is not. Son and DIL just had a baby and sent pics and messages for a few days then evaporated. I’ve visited and brought meals but it isn’t the joyful event it should be. Our 2 daughters are beginning to feel the distance (both live out of state) and I question if time will change any of this. As far as inheritance goes my husband will leave nothing to our son/DIL and we feel no reason to tell them. They should expect nothing else. I imagine I will leave equal shares to all three children if I remain on speaking terms with son. All this will be put in trust but nothing will go to DIL if he were to pass before distribution of my half of my estate

  3. Bunny

    I have been through an estrangement with an adult child. All I have to say is estrangement does not occur in a vacuum. Yall need to look in a mirror and deal with YOUR issues. I am now reconciled but part of that is accepting that we parents played a part in things messing up.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Bunny,

      Congratulations on your reconciliation!

      I think the vast majority of parents DO look in the mirror and admit to mistakes. In fact, they usually look back with a fine-toothed comb and often magnify any mistakes.

      Unfortunately, the tact does not always bring about a reconcilation.

      Hugs to you, and congratulations again! I hope it’s a kind and loving and fun relationship you have developed and one that brings you and your adult child much joy.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Sophia

      Yes, the adult child may have issues with the relationship. But they are also late in maturing. Many parents here have bent over backwards to have a conversation with their EAC to no avail. To say that these parents are not doing their part is rather unfair. We have offered to talk.

    3. Mimi

      You are accusing and attacking parents on this site whom you have never met and whose full stories you do not know. Nobody on this site claims to be perfect. It’s a ridiculous insult that you suggest that other parents have not introspected as to their faults or part they played. Additionally, a huge problem is significant societal changes which are outside of parental control.

      You are the type of person that I would never be able to share with. Prejudging. Condemnation, in advance.

      You actually sound very angry and are lashing out. Maybe you are angry that you apologized for something that was not your fault? When I was little, I would hit a pillow to get the anger out. Try that.

    4. Kate

      Very well said Mimi, I agree. Some of us on here have tried over & over for MANY years to have a good relationship with our estranged child/children only to be ignored & forgotten, while others on here have only just begun this sad & difficult journey.

    5. Carrie-Ann

      Bunny, after reading your post, I felt like it was “pouring salt on a wound” and an “insult to injury.”
      My only response was, “Wow” & “Ow.” I chose to not respond immediately, if at all, until I “reflected” in my mirror, as you suggested, and have done continually throughout my entire life…
      It came to me last night, in the middle of the night…
      Your words, “All I have to say is estrangement does not occur in a vacuum.” Well, I am here to “testify” that it indeed “does occur in a vacuum.”…the vacuum of the mind(s) of so-called “estranged adult children”…demanding entitled, scapegoating, selfish, cruel, heartless beings…Oh, and, let’s not forget the keywords here, “disrespectful” & “ungrateful”…and downright “evil without conscience.”
      What also came to me in the middle of the night were your words, “Yall need to look in a mirror and deal with YOUR issues.”…
      Dearest Bunny, I truly hope that you are experiencing a “happily-ever-after” in your situation…
      Looking in the mirror, dealing with an estranged adult child is like looking in the carnival-circus mirrors…warped, distorted, disorienting, scary…
      ”Mirrored” in the eyes of the angry, sullen, cold, demeaning, blaming, accusing, discarding, gas-lighting estranged adult child, one feels like one can’t see the true self oneself knows they are as a person, as a parent, as a human being…One questions reality before, during, after in this entire lifetime…
      Living in Gratitude, I woke up this morning, as I do each morning, and “looked in the mirror.”…Reflecting there, I saw a Beautiful Loving Being…doing the best she can…with a broken heart within a “Perfect, Whole, & Complete Heart”…Sending Peace & Love to All, including the Estranged Adult Children…
      No, I will not look through the twisted mirror of the reality thrown upon me in this lifetime by clueless estranged adult children…(i.e. charming when they want something, snarling after they get it)…TOXIC…
      I often wonder why the estranged adult children do not see the Love for them that is mirrored in my eyes…Maybe the same reason for what they may see, or not see, in their own mirrors…
      Each moment I breathe in Peace & Love, and breathe out pain & heartache…
      So, Bunny, hoppy-happy-trails to you…I send you only Love & Well-Wishes…Talk to me when you’re further down the trail of this life…
      In the meanwhile, I am Grateful for Beautiful Sheri & this On-line Community made up of such Divine, Strong, Caring, Generous, Beautiful Beings…We share so many Beautiful things…that eases the pain of these experiences… Although I do shed tears with and for others and their experiences, it’s not a “pity-party”…It’s a “thriving & surviving” deal…
      Although I do share my Heart with others on this site, I truly am a very private person, with a very light on-line footprint…This is a Sacred site, the only place where I can share my Heart in Trust & Friendship…
      In Gratitude, Peace, Love, & Joy,

    6. Carrie-Ann

      P.P.S. I would like to add a correction in reference to part of the post that I just submitted:
      “I often wonder why the estranged adult children do not see the Love for them that is mirrored in my eyes…Maybe the same reason for what they may see, or not see, in their own mirrors…”
      It is important to note, that estranged adult children DO KNOW AND SEE the Love parents have for them… They CHOOSE TO USE & ABUSE THIS KNOWLEDGE TO MEET THEIR WANTS AND NEEDS. They can play the “victim” and/or the “apologetic” cards, as well as the “charm” card, to manipulate and gas-light…

    7. rparents Post author

      Dear Carrie-Ann, Your thoughts about the carnival mirrors are so right. It is true that parents are affected and their own image distorted even to themselves when rejected by adult children. There is no excuse for abuse, and loving, caring parents subjected to it from abusive adult children do flail in the murky waters of identity. Don’t let that happen to you, Carrie-Ann, because of somebunny’s (haha!) careless (or perhaps even well-aimed) comment. Let it go because your beautiful reflection has shone through every comment you have ever made at the site.

      I tried to be “nice” in my reply to “Bunny” and give her the benefit of the doubt. Let it go now. Don’t use any more of your valuable energy and time. Just be happy and see the you that I see … a lovely and kind soul.

      I wrote an a couple of articles about this topic. Here’s one:


      HUGS to you.

      Sheri McGregor

    8. Carrie-Ann

      I Absolutely love your comments…They are “Simply Fabulous” darling…just like you are…Thanks for the smiles…

  4. Carrie-Ann

    Good Morning!!!
    Loved Beautiful Sheri’s October Post…Along with the helpful resources she is providing, I discovered last night a really great you-tube website that can also provide more resources and information.

    I am sending this you-tube link that deals with “Financial and Social Help” information. Check out the website for a complete menu of topics that we have all been concerned with and discussing…like legal, medical, etc.. It really is a comprehensive site for information & resources…

    May it serve you well…

    May You All Be Enjoying This Beautiful Fall Sunday!!!

  5. Janice

    We recently rewrote our wills. Our son get only $3000 from each of us. Everything else goes to his daughter and any other children. The trust for our grandchildren will be administered by a third party. If we outlive her everything goes to the local animal shelter.

    Decisions on end of life and finances were taken out of his hands and given to others we trust. We now look after ourselves.

  6. Teresa

    We have an ES and grandchildren, one of which we have never met. It’s been almost 3 years now. He seems like a stranger now it’s been so long without any connection. I put word through a 3rd party because I think he was looking for information on our will. I said we were leaving our estate to children’s charities. We haven’t changed it yet but if it ever gets to 7 years, oh yeah we will change it. My sisters were estranged from my mother after my father passed ( they never had kids). I called my mom once a week and even though she wasn’t mom of the year, we at least found one thing we could connect about and that was discussing the Oprah Winfrey show. After my mother passed, they both had tremendous breakdowns with therapy and medication. I only had one mother and even though she wasn’t perfect, she was my mother. I can only hope they will regret their decision to go no contact one day, and realize what they did to their family.

    1. Teresa

      Also on a side note about my family…my youngest son who is estranged would not acknowledge his older brother (combat veteran PTSD/brain injury) who wished him a happy birthday on Facebook but acknowledged everyone else’s birthday wishes but not his own brother’s. Our son was publicly humiliated as were my husband and I and the neighbors had a discussion about what is wrong with our youngest son?? We had a great family until he married a young woman who he dated for one week, she is the gatekeeper.

  7. Denice

    We have been told we are Toxic Grandparents, we have to be supervised. I would have taken the grandkids on some really cool vacations, not now… we have sought counseling, they want no contact. The last time we saw them our daughter slapped her father across the face twice. No, we will not be leaving them a dime. We will SKI until we hire someone to take care of us. The saddest time of my life

    1. A. N.

      Sorry you’re going through this, but you don’t know you will need to be taken care of. Not everyone does.
      And if your daughter acts like this you’d probably be better off hiring someone than relying on her. JMO

    2. Tara y Terminiello

      Good for you. Their favorite word is “toxic” I dont know what millennials would do without that word.
      My estrangement began 19 months ago when my SIL, with whom Id always had a good relationship {I thought} announced that his sister confided in him she had been raped repeatedly throughout her child hood by their dad. Because of this, his dad, who had been helping out with their new born daughter during covid, was banished from their lives.
      I was sympathetic to SIL but urged that he contact his father {who was going crazy trying to contact his son to talk} and confront him, and get a bit more info on the situation. Ive known my fellow in law for 15 years and, while I cant say he was a child molester for sure Id always know him to be a nice, kind decent sort of fellow ….who to this day is still paying off his daughters college debt. . I couldnt figure out why, for 15 years his daughter always treated him with happy, normal affection…….right up until what she claims is her “flash back”. SIL blew up at ME, and accused me of siding with his “baby raper dad” and commanded my daughter to never bring our grandchild over to visit because if I was sympathetic to the dad, I condoned sex abuse. My daughter admitted he was being nuts, and brought the baby over for almost a year, in secret, until he found out by tracking her phone, and he threatened to divorce her or commit suicide.{He is diabetic, and planned to do it with chocolate cake and whiskey}. He made her life so miserable she finally told us we had to be cut off.
      In desparation I went to the SIL’s dad and tried to talk to him. He is miserable and frustrated and heart broken, and his whole family supports him and has cut off the SIL. They also showed me something I never saw…the go fund me page of the sister begging for 60 grand because now Dad AND MOM sexually trafficked her for 20 years and now she needs therapy. Happy to share the link if anyone wants to read it. My daughter could not take the pressure of being torn between her husband and us so she cut us out completely, and said unless we apologize to her husband we are through. We tried to talk to him but he is so enraged its impossible . Its been 4 months of radio silence. This situation is SO insane.

      Anyway, they are both out of the will.

  8. Gene

    We are well into our 7th year of “no contact” and have had our wills worded that our ES should receive nothing. We did leave a moderate allowance to our grandchildren…who we have never met…to help with their future college tuition. But we are going to change that as there is no doubt that our BPD D-I-L (who is the direct cause of our schism) will find a way to get her hands on it. Our plan is to leave money to our other adult child NOW and spending the balance as we please. Spend your money on yourself folks as there is NO such thing as an ironclad will.

  9. LookingForASunnyDay

    Thank you, Sheri for this very interesting article on a topic that probably bothers most of us. It’s quite a dilemma and for me, the finality of making a new will to disinherit my ES is daunting to say the least. But if we are ” toxic” then why do they want anything when we die? Why not learn to ski- LOL! After all, we sure need cheering up and ” ski-ing” sounds like a good way of doing just that. Instead of sitting moping this Christmas, why not take a few ski lessons and enjoy ourselves?!

  10. Farmgirl

    Doing our wills is on our to do list. My 2 ES with get nothing. Well, we are leaving them $1. The rest of our possessions will be sold – 1/2 to go to my cousin’s 2 daughters and the rest to animal shelters in the area.
    Even our family keepsakes with be given to my cousin or sold. If we weren’t good enough to be in their lives then our belongings aren’t good enough either.
    We have been happily spending their inheritance and loving every minute of it!!

  11. Sonorita

    I disagree, at least in my case (and I suspect in many others as well), that my EC would consider the inheritance toxic. I doubt the money and property would be considered anything other than an entitlement that will go to feed the greed and selfishness that this AC has become.

  12. Teresa

    I have watched U-Tube videos about this subject. One attorney stated if you plan to leave your money/estate to a charitable organization, then you have to have given to it on a regular basis otherwise the will can be challenged by an estranged adult child. He said if you leave it in a trust or living trust then a trust cannot be challenged in court. Another attorney said if you have had zero contact for a period of 2 years you can legally disinherit them. There’s a lot of information out there and ai think the laws vary by state.

  13. David H

    We have also been struggling with what to do. As our youngest son and his family have cut us off we are amending our trust.
    Everything was great until he got some bad counseling.
    Oh well it is what it is and as one person mentioned: It is what it is.

  14. Aimee

    Hi Sheri….

    Have gone back and forth with this.

    As an aside…Seems many of us are animal lovers!!
    Some of our money will go to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and The Humane Society.

    At this point a hefty sum will be left to our only-kind-of-estranged daughter.

    Have stated explicitly that none is to go to ED. Glad to know that it might be considered a toxic inheritance. Sorry not sorry.

    The bulk of our estate is ear marked for a charity/organization dear to our hearts..

    I find the more troubling matter to be who to appoint as executor of both health and finance…I am fine with leaving the Semi ED money but I have no illusions she will put much energy into our well being.

    My husband and I took care of everything re our parents aging, last illnesses, eventual deaths and funerals.

    Leaving money is one thing ~ how the remaining spouse will be cared for in old age is far more worrisome to me.

    I advocated every step of the way for my mother and father. And a lot of advocating was necessary. Moved mountains, made sure their care was appropriate and safe and as acceptable to them as was humanly possible.

    I was hospitalized for 6 weeks at one point.

    My husband did everything in his power to make the experience as tolerable as could be. But eventually he had to go home to sleep, run his business every now and then etc

    I was left at the mercy of night nurses and it was a nightmare. Husband hired a few private overnight LPNs to fend for me…A bit better but that too proved a problem.

    ***This is not a panning of RNs/LPNs in general** They are mostly heroic, admirable people..

    This was just my unfortunate experience and it scared the h*ll out of me and left an indelible mark…

    So if our wishes are carried out upon our deaths really does not matter that much to us. We have have made our preferences known and that is that.

    Way, way more treacherous for parents of estranged children/families is the care they receive as they age, become infirm and need loving intervention and advocacy…


    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Aimee,

      That’s part of estate planning…the assigning of who will be in charge of your health decisions should you be incapacitated. It’s something all of us really need to consider–and yes, very important. I have recently learned about what is known as a private patient advocate. For those who do not have someone they can trust in this role (family member, friend), and who can afford to do so, hiring one might be a worthwhile choice.

      Hugs to you Aimee. I’m glad you are better now.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. L. Marie

      I left one estranged child completely out. Zero. I left the other estranged child my house (but i only own half of our house) and my jewelry, coins. The jewels/coins wont sell for much and i dont want the hassle. I left everything else to an animal rescue organization. I plan on spending alot of it though, as 0ne estranged child is a very recent development and i was saving all my $ for him. But in light of recent events he will only get a little bit now. Leaving a house is different than leaving personal possessions they could care less about.

  15. rattlesnake

    I’m sure some that inherit money from someone they consider “toxic” will have some kind of negative reaction to the money, but they WILL spend it. I think the opposite scenerio is far more common: No matter how bad the relationship was and no matter how estranged and ungrateful the adult child was, they are beyond furious if they get left out of the will, especially if there are other siblings who did not get left out.

    I have been facing this recently. I never thought in a million years I’d be one of those parents who cuts one child out of my will. We went to see an attorney and I told her that we were estranged; she worded the will that I “disinherit” my son. I could not get past that and had to revise it. I am leaving my son a (relatively) small gift but not an insult amount like a dollar or $100.00. Meanwhile, I told my daughters a little about the plan so there should be no big surprises. I also told them that if we SKI enough it is possible there will be little or no money left and it is possible the way the will is written that ES would get more than them! I don’t think that will happen, but I’m just saying it is remotely possible since I set an amount for him, but the others get a share of the final estate (which he will not get a share of, if there is any).

  16. Gracie2021

    Good morning ! Thank you, Sheri. If our estrangement does not recover, we will be leaving what we have left to our local no-kill animal shelter. There won’t be much but, at this time, whatever is left will be better utilized by this non-profit rather than by our “all for profit” millionaire sons. That’s just my bottom line. Wish it weren’t so but my ES’s have placed material objects above everything.

    1. L. Marie

      I too sought out the love of animals since my kids dont love me. Its funny that so many of us chose to help animals since our kids didnt want us….

  17. Michelle M.

    I listened to Anderson Cooper talk about his mom Gloria Vanderbilt. She gave her money away to charity feeling it was better for her son to earn his way in life. He feels he will probably do the same but will pay for college and get his son started. She even joked about it towards her end of life that many would think he would get millions. The expectations were clear. Warren Buffett gave his children a 1 million and they will get no more. My children have inherited from their grandparents a decent amount of money. I never expected any money from my parents and that made me work hard and to be self sufficient. I have let them know that they should use their inheritance wisely as there will be no more. I currently have one of two children as a beneficiary. But she too is succumbing to the alienation and her sisters persuasion. I wrestle too with this decision and have put off my will. Like my divorce, I am probably in denial that things will change. Cleaning out my parents house was overwhelming as they threw nothing away. It has made me more of a minimalist and to value memories over stuff. I have created scholarships, donated to our Library, and cleaned a lot of “stuff” and donated it to charitable organizations. I now think of the places that leaving my money can create positive change in the world. Travel is one of my passions and next week I leave for ten days in Egypt. My bucket list moment. I have been “skiing” because I get to be happy too. Yes, I would have loved to have them join in the adventure but they made a choice and chose not to make me a part of their lives. I no longer owe them anything as they are adults. It is like expecting benefits, and a 401k, but not working for it. I no longer feel guilty about this decision.

  18. Julie J.

    I have an appt in early November to update my will, removing my only child and giving it all to our local humane society. I can’t in good conscience leave her anything after she called the police on me after flying 2k miles to see her, telling them I “used to be her mother”. She’s also smoking dope, I didnt work all these years so she can smoke it away. Changing all my beneficiaries for policies as well. I don’t have tons of money either but it was hard earned. Its hard and I was not always the best mother but i acknowledged that, apologized for it and i thought we had moved past all of that. Last year, I was giving the best advice and she loved me so much. This year, she hates me. Not sure if its a mental break as shes been very isolated with the pandemic or what. It makes me sad and I’ve dissected this situation a gazillion times but as my wise mother said, life goes on.

  19. Ann

    I would like to leave everything to my one son, who has stood by my side during my divorce to an abusive husband. The other three have shamed me, victim blamed me, and have cut me off for the past 12 years, because their father has insisted they do so to punish me “for breaking up our family”.

    My worry is that my son will feel guilty about getting it all while his siblings get none, or his siblings will turn on him (they already barely speak to him because he will not participate in the Mom bashing) and make him feel horrible about getting it all. I know that if I were to ask him, he would say that they don’t deserve anything after the way they have treated me, but it is often easy to feel a certain way, until you are actually faced with the situation, and I would hate to have the attacks that have been directed to me, then directed towards him. But the thought of leaving anything to the other three in order to “keep the peace” is beyond what I am capable of after being drug through the emotional hell that they have put me through, and am finally starting to recover from.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Mimi

      Hi Ann,
      My husband and I recently updated our will. We have had the same problem/concerns that you have expressed. Nonetheless, we have decided that we will give everything only to the children that love us. Yes, those children that are inheriting will face hate from their siblings that are not inheriting anything. So be it.

      In my opinion, you should give everything to your son. He is your true son.

      Biblically speaking, this is an object lesson to us as to how Father God will give inheritance to his true children. Peace to you.

  20. Jan P.

    I’ve thought a lot about this issue especially considering my age (70). I just had my trust rewritten to alleviate my estranged daughter of any responsibility as a successor trustee. Only my husband and son are listed. However, I will not disinherit her—I would not feel right about that regardless of how she feels about me. We are SKI-ing by traveling and living our lives as we choose and not worrying about the potential impact on inheritance. If there’s anything left, both of my kids can have it. Same for jewelry and household goods. What we have acquired over the years brings us pleasure now, but after we’re gone it will be up to my son to determine what to keep, what to sell, what to toss, and whether to involve his sister in the decision making.

    1. A mom

      This makes good sense. At the request of our stable, lovely, loving daughter we will treat everyone equally BUT we are not concerned if there is nothing left after we die. We prefer to give out “living” gifts – and have NOT been “equal” because two of them are estranged and with one of them, we have no clue even where she is living right now. We are keeping a record of these “gifts” only for our own use, and are doing what we think is “fair” with our assets. Things may change over time; they may not. We will see. Thank you, all.

  21. Elizabeth

    Looking forward to your next book, Sheri! I think you make valid points about things we need to consider. Being our shunning is not 100%…and we still hear a couple times a year, we will probably leave some to them…but most of it is being, bit by bit, given to the other 2 that we do have frequent contact with…in this way: if we go out to eat we pay…sometimes our daughter here insists on paying for some or the tip, but mostly I try to convince her not to because THEY are the ones seeing us, they are the ones we are with and have the joy of their company. And the other daughter needs our help from time to time (she does not ask…but we inquire as we know she has a hard time even though working hard at a low paying job). Of course, being a continent away from the others is part of it…but not all, by any means. Also the ones shunning us have money, have a GOB they will no doubt inherit from both parents and the aunt and uncle nearby who had no kids…all fairly rich people…so won’t need our measly amount anyway. We already divided up a lot of things in previous years due to what happened when my brothers WIVES took the best of the best of the handmade things of MY grandmothers. I did not fight over it. But I determined such WOULD NOT occur with my kids. I hope to find something to leave each grandchild…some jewelry is already promised to the older 2. We have precious little of value to hand down. But we have taken 2 very expensive trips overseas…we took our youngest and her friend with us on one of them, at our expense. So in a way, yes, our inheritance is at this time, mostly going to the 2 who show their love for us. IF we were ever written off in a nasty way as some parents have been, you better believe I would leave everything to charity or friends etc. Even very distant kin perhaps. No reason to reward bad behavior.

    1. rparents Post author


      You mention your “measly amount.” You sound like such loving people. If your measly bit is all this love, thoughtfulness, and care, the ones who don’t associate with you are (purposely) missing out on the best inheritance of all (a kind family! Love! Roots! etc). I applaud you for the way you’ve thought things through.

      Hugs to you, and hugs to your sweet adult children too.

      Sheri McGregor

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