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

  1. Linda J.

    We are in the final stages of updating our will as I finally decided it was time to fold ’em. My ED started this in 2019 when we got married and she is the only “child” who not only didn’t give it a chance, but started pulling away the two granddaughters who were the center of my world. We were very bonded since I had made it a point to visit on average about once a month since 2012 when the first one was born making a 10 hour round trip each time. About a year before the estrangement, I moved to the same town and saw them daily for the first 7 months since I lived with them. Then I moved to my own place and saw them a few times a week. After I got married she decided I was no longer worthy. I did gain a bonus daughter that loves me and I love dearly. We are splitting between our 3 adult children so my beautiful bonus daughter gets 1/3, my son 1/3, & my ED’s two children 1/3.

  2. Laura

    I think it was a no brainer for us to change our will to disinherit our 27 year old cherished and well taken care of daughter when we realized her inexplicably estranging from us over 4 months ago is not over anything we did. For us the deciding factor was it became clear we could never trust her to consider the needs of her 23 year old brother who is on the spectrum if the unthinkable happened to us (he works but will always need some guidance). I imagine we’d still be agonizing over this and still worry about how much this would hurt her if they were both neurotypical and could take care of themselves. This decision was made even easier when we realized the accusatory, revisionist, and scripted language that both she and her fiancé started using towards us is part of the online “No Contact” with parents trend that encourages troubled young adults to blame their parents for their problems. My husband still wants to reach out to tell her why we’re disinheriting her which doesn’t make sense to me. Is there any reason to tell her that I’m not understaning?

    1. Judy

      I’m really sorry you’ve not received a reply. I’m the mother of a 37-year-old estranged daughter. I’ve learned over and over through the years… to stop crying and carrying around any hope that she’ll change for the better. It’s now been 4 years since I’ve seen her and 16 months since she phoned. Before that, it had been 3 years since I had seen her. So the pattern has grown into longer periods. In the past, she’d suddenly call me daily and ask my opinion on things, laugh about movies, etc. Then BAM…. gone again.
      There finally was nothing left but TOXIC from her. I’ve blocked her phone # and stopped sending greetings of any type. Hard to believe this has happened. She is my only child.
      I also do NOT wish to leave her ANYTHING. House, property, items left to me by my own Mom…. nothing.
      She has no desire to know me, her ancestry, or anything remotely resembling a family.
      I hope you get the reply you wish for…
      You can always reach out to me if you want. Thanks for letting me vent.
      Happy New Year’s Day~ 2023

    2. Faber

      No reason to tell her tho you may wish to express your feelings (kindly) in a note attached to your will. Recommend leaving a small amount to avoid challenges, or add a no contest clause…see your attorney.

  3. choosingfreedom

    My 3 adult children have been estranged for about 4 years now due to their belief in the lies their mother and Popop say about me. Such horrible lies. I have not met my sons twin boys born last Sept and didn’t walk my daughter in her wedding last month. My son calls me an embarrassment and my daughter a monster. I will do them a favor and not embarrass him, or scare her with an inheritance. I will always love them.

    1. JanPhyllis

      Good for you! You are choosing to stand up for yourself!!!
      My estranged child has my parents treasures (mistake on my part), owes me money needed to buy my DIL her engagement ring, I paid for his first wedding and spoiled him
      rotten with everything and more and most important all my caring, giving, and tons of love!!! (I was a fool!!) Now I’m estranged!
      What does anyone think or even feel his inheritance should be?
      Your right if you said he already received it!

    2. Nelson

      I had no father figure, I really cant understand how people chose to not talk to their parents or at least like in your case, not allow them to explain their situation. I am sorry for your experience

  4. DGrace

    Our estranged children or alienated children will never know we have passed unless they are informed or there is an obituary. In many states the your Trust is written to notify only those who are listed within the Trust. You can express your final wishes for burial or set it up prior to death with a funeral home so no other relatives need to be notified. Request no obituary. Have your services after your Trust is completely settled or via circle of friends. We have seen fights over wills that would make your skin crawl! These were distant relatives who had zero rights to anything and still went to court, and won! Everything needs to be in a trust. You can even add their name if your gravely ill to your assets. Then no one can take them away. My father did that when he had cancer.

  5. Gail

    I was a great & an awful mom to my 2 adult sons.
    Second son had dad leave our 10 year marriage when I was 4 months pregnant. Older son was 2 at that time. So, single-parent upon coming home from hospital.
    Older son has always been aggressive, but lovable and creative and solid. Younger son is very reserved and brainy. Both boys, in their 30’s, are best friends. Older is married, younger is single. No kids.
    Like all of us, I had good days and not great days. A lot of it came from fatigue, financial stress, and even after divorce, an onslaught from their dad.
    I have been harder on my older son, as he is challenging, even in adulthood. I see a lot of genuine caring from him, along with continuous disrespect being tossed at me. When tired, I have taken the low road, and we spar. Not proud of myself. It has been our lifelong dynamic. Many holidays have fallen apart because of it. Including this one. As we parted company, I saw a look of deep sadness and disappointment in his eyes that I have not seen before. That is the final time we have had contact. He is done. It took all that for me to understand my part in all this. I am a slow learner. I suspect the peace he seeks from estrangement will surpass any feelings to reconnect. I am late 60’s, and am preparing a trust. He will be a full participant in his inheritance. We each contributed to a difficult journey. But, I have 30+ more years of learning experience. I own it. If he does return, which will always be my hope, but said with zero expectation, I will do the hard work to resume. That is my prayer.

  6. Debra

    My eyes well up with tears reading all these heart-breaking stories. It does help to know there are others out there suffering abandonment by their adult children, just like me. Now that the holidays are approaching I’m feeling bluer than usual as I think about my estranged son and daughter more during the holidays. It still hurts me that neither of them care one iota whether I’m alive or dead and that I’m aging and in poor health. It hurst because I was there for my son always, 24/7 as a single mom and it was a LOT of work raising him alone as he was born severely disabled. It’s inexplicable that he doesn’t seem to recall all the things I did for him, all the times I held his hand when he was hurting, the time I traveled to his apartment when he was sick to cook him a turkey dinner. While the bird was in his oven, I cleaned up his filthy apartment strewn with empty beer bottles and cans, and ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, and a sink full of dirty dishes! He never mentions all the things I did for him, but instead falsely accused me of only being there for him when I felt like it! I was flabergasted to say the least at that blatant lie as I was always there for him whether I felt like it or not – 24/7. I just can’t understand or figure out how he could forget all that I did for him and all the times I held his hand during his surguries and hospitalizations when he was being stuck with a needle or IV. I used to carry him around when he was little because he wasn’t able to walk due to his birth defect. Does he ever mention any of these things that I did for him? No, never.

    What ever happened to my son I often ask myself and God. I’ve tried to figure it out; was it being separated from me at birth and taken to a hospital to have surgury on his open spine? Did he not attach to me properly? Or, was it something else? All I know is, I loved my son and raised him the best I knew how at the time and gave it my all, regardless of what he thinks or says. It has broken my heart that he could say such preposterous things about me and I just don’t know how it is possible. Often I’ve though I should write my experience down in a book; maybe what I’ve lived through could be helpful to others, help them not to make the same mistakes I made with my son. Regardless of any mistakes I made, I did my level best to raise him and I loved him.

    On more thing I want to share, as I think it may help others, is that I gave my son too much advice. It was a mistake even though I did it out of love, not wanting to see him ruin his life. He had a drinking problem along with other bad traits that lost him several jobs. In short, I’ve since realized it was a mistake giving him so much advice as I read books on Co-dependency and things like ‘enmeshment.’ See, we well-meaning, loving parents can CARE TOO MUCH about our children and about other people too. If I had it to do all over, I would change that part of my relating to him by LETTING GO of trying to control him and let him live his life his way — even though I didn’t agree with it and even though it seemed ridiculous to me. Word to the wise — DON’T TRY TO CONTROL YOUR CHILDREN, LET GO OF THEM AND LET THEM LIVE THEIR LIVES THEIR WAY because if you insist on trying to control them and their choices, you’ll push them away from you. Not saying that’s the only reason my son walked away from me, but it probably contributed to his decision to do so. It wasn’t easy for me to see this or to admit that I may have had a part in driving him away. It is tragic and I just wish I could have seen what I was doing sooner. It appears to be too late to save my relationship with my son with this wisdom, but at least I can pass it on to others and hope that they can save their relationships by letting others live their lives free from their interference and control. A real good book to read about this is, “Let Go Now” by Karen Casey, and “Co-dependence & the Power of Detachment” by Karen Casey. She’s a counselor and expert on these topics. Her writing is easy to read and incredibly insightful. I highly recommend her books. I’ve learned much from them. Bought mine at Amazon.

    As for my Will — I once asked my son (when we were still talking) if he wanted any of my possessions when I die, and he said he didn’t and that I could just sell them. His statment let me off the hook so to speak, so I don’t have to wonder what I should or shouldn’t re leaving him something in my Will. Lawyers haven’t been much help at all I’ve found, unless there’s a huge sum of money in it for them! Small estates don’t interest them.

    Well, I hope I haven’t rambled on too much but it felt so good to let some of this out here where it’s safe to do so (hopefully).

    Love, peace, and grace to all of you here. Hope there’ll be some sunshine on all of our holidays despite our estrangements and feelings of abandonment and yes, loneliness. May the good God above fill our hearts with His peace.


    1. Yvonne.

      Dear Debra, your story touched me….sending my heartfelt gratitude to you.for sharing…life is full of twists and turns ….nothing touches so profoundly or so deeply than our children s estraninging ..it’s a long journey … My child like wise seems to have forgotten the loving positive care there for them no matter what..the Apple of our eye…like yourself one goes through the scenarios of how & why …..one reflects deeply on the question s……In retro aspect letting go to find their way though ….even though this can be so very hard to do…..Warmest wishes from the heart sending to you

    2. Linda P.

      Thank you for sharing, Debra. I sympathize with you and I have a similar situation. Just wanted to say thanks, it helped me to read your story.❤️
      I’m trying to accept what is….it’s so hard!
      May God bless you and all of us who are hurting.

  7. Stephanie A.

    Dear Karen; In response to your reply to my post. While I realize that you are trying to be comforting, I have to say that I disagree with the adage that my “job” as a Mother is “finished.” Too many wise people have stated that our “job” as a Mom is only finished when we die. I concur. I also have never over-indulged my kiddos. However, in this case, there is a baby being born into a horrible situation. That baby is my first Grandchild. That baby should not suffer for the “sins” of its parents. And in that vein, I am its Grandmother and I can help in that manner. Also, I have prayed daily and sometimes several times a day that God will open his heart. He once was a very spiritual young man. Raised that way by me. She has sucked that out of him as well. Her family can quote scripture and speak in tongues and speak condescendingly to anyone who is not on board with their form of religion. And yet, go along with her while telling my husband and I for five hours what a horrible child she was. They have now ensured as well that our son is alienated from all those who love him. At any rate, my faith gives me hope.

  8. Stephany

    After reading all of the comments, I realized that no one has the same situation as I do. I am 80 years old and estranged from all three of my children. I was getting money from 2 trusts that I used for 40 years to live on. My daughter, along with 1 brother decided they were going to get a conservatorship over me so they could get the money I am to supposed to be receiving. One brother said no way. What they do not know now is that everything was given to the trustee and nothing to me. I have tried for years to get a lawyer to help me and none will. To all of you who have money, please be careful, you have no idea what these so called entitled children will try and do to you. Please be careful!

  9. Lyla M.

    I feel that some inheritance is the right thing for me to give them, regardless of their behavior. But my life insurance agent didn’t understand why I wasn’t giving higher percentages to them. It’s too painful to explain it.

  10. Michelle

    My husband and I have decided that what remains after we are gone will be divided equally between our estranged son and our attentive daughter. We do not want our final action on earth to be one of revenge and punishment, threatening the relationship between the two of them. Perpetuating toxicity. We will leave the last door open as the Lord did for us.

    1. jo

      Michelle I agree with you. I too have an estranged child and though she wants no part of me, I believe she can have half of my estate and do with it what she wants. If that is to use it for herself and her family, GREAT! If its to donate, that is great too. Its her choice as is her perception of who I am and whether or not she chooses to see me. She is still my flesh and blood and I love the person that she was that I know.

    2. Donna M

      This is how I feel. Although I have considered leaving my ED $1 and splitting her share between her children. I am still allowed to be a part of my only granddaughter’s life. Her brother is autistic and other than the first few weeks of his life, I have been kept at arm’s length. I’m not certain why. Heck, I don’t know why my oldest estranged herself other than she has unmedicated, unresolved mental health issues and it feels like that has more to do than me. That and my mother spent money hand over fist on her and my youngest daughter while isolating my son…and me.

      So please consider that arrangement. That way the money goes into a trust for your grandbaby (-ies).

      I am not an attorney. I do not play one on TV. I just know this crap sucks.

    3. Martine S.

      Very wise decision, although not an easy one. I have an estranged daughter (soon 30yo) and the other one (28yo) is becoming more ‘mixed up’ and non communicative by the day. I am very afraid of what is to come next. With my husband who has Alzheimer (moderate stage), the situation is becoming more and more painful.

    4. Jan

      I strongly agree with you. Everything we have comes from God in the first place. I don’t want my children fighting with each other when I’m gone. Especially over money. They are all part of my family that the good Lord gave me. We all make mistakes and God says forgive 7 times 70. I would hope they all have a good relationship when I’m gone. And that would strengthen their relationship with the Lord, which is the most important thing..God bless you all and may be help you find peace.
      And btw, our ED is slowly working her way back to us and I praise God every day.

  11. Mary Ann

    This article came at a good time. As so many of you other heartbroken parents out there ( I never realized so many!) I faced the “changing the will” decision. My 40-year old daughter chose to leave our family fold two-years ago …. no reasons given.
    I have waited and waited, hoping and hoping for reconciliation. Time does not slow.
    So my husband and I decided to have her taken out of our will, and everything will be left to my son and his three children. We did not want him to have to wait years, for lawyers to try to track down his estranged sister. She chose to leave the family. She should not be rewarded after we are gone. It’s tragic. Breaks my heart.
    This site has been a life-saver for me. I realize I’m not alone.
    I sometimes wonder if all the estranged children even have in inkling what sadness and heartbreak they have, and are, causing their parent / parents ?

    1. Bob & Sandy F.

      I to wonder if my adult sons ever think of how our hearts are broken and our health is declining. They were spoiled and loved. This site has been a LIFE SAVER. Most of my friends have no idea what this is like.
      The pain after many years gets harder to live with. Thank you all for sharing.

    2. Loz

      It is a heart against head decision to have to make when doing our wills,l absolutely admire Michelle for leaving her estranged daughter equal share with her attentive brother,she is beyond gracious.l like you made the decision to be not as gracious,after 16years of silence from from daughter,no communication from my 3 g/daughters l decided to leave all l have to my nephews who have been a loving constant in my life.That decision was not made from hate or wanting to hurt my daughter,it was made as a acknowledgement of the love my nephews have given me.My daughter made the decision to be abusive and to walk away me as l was obviously not important to her or her family ,she chose to walk her own path,l accept that,as she must accept that l too have to walk my own path.Forgiveness does come after so long it is liberating for us that have reached that point,for those who are still shattered and broken l feel for.Take care of yourselves be gentle with your soul be kind to your heart,you did our best with what we had but sometimes we just have shut the door to the past to protect ourselves.

      1. Faber

        Good for you. You can surely forgive and simultaneously not reward your daughter’s behavior. It’s YOUR money/assets and you owe others nothing, even in the best circumstances.

  12. Linda H.

    I am so sorry you are going through this–it is so hard. My daughter and one of my sons have been estranged for 15 years. I still love them both dearly and have no idea what happened; however, I did end my abusive marriage to their father after 34 years. They still connect with their dad occasionally–which I suspect may be connected to the financial aspects of an inheritance. I went to counseling the first few years, but then it became too painful to go because at each session there were just so many questions that couldn’t be answered. After a couple of years I realized that it would never be any different. It’s like a death in the family, and the only thing that helps is time and the support of other people who love you. Some of my friends accept horrible treatment from their adult children, and when I witness it, I am grateful that my children aren’t actively mean to me–they just aren’t in my life. I hope you find peace and healing.

  13. Mary Lou

    After reading through many of the comments, I have to ask the question (rhetorical), How did we get to this place? I won’t go into my own story, but it runs similar to many others. Long story short, I struggle with guilt, anger, pain, sadness, thoughts of ‘Would I be better off dead’ . I struggle as a Christian, and feel silly saying, ‘What would Jesus do?’. Bottom line, all I can really do is pray for my estranged daughters, daily.

      1. rparents Post author

        Mary Lou and Ami,

        Truth be told, many who have done so much, loved selflessly, and even made mistakes have felt this way from time to time. I hope you can find a way to feel better, seek joy, find something good to focus on, serve others, or call help lines, ask for assistance, smile at neighbors and try to feel better about your plight. Mary Lou, you mentioned prayer for your children and there is a purpose in that. Can you pray for the many parents and their children too? And dear Ami and Mary Lou both, by sharing your thoughts, you have helped another person or two … or ten….

        I’m very sorry for your pain.

        Hugs to you,
        Sheri McGregor

    1. Kristin

      When my recently married 34 year old son became estranged just a few days after my cancer diagnosis 11/11/11, just 2 days after my 56th birthday, I knew he was upset and thought within a few weeks, it would be okay (he lived in Manhattan at the time). In February 2013 while at a yearly checkup w my cardiologist, I asked her if people really do die from ‘a broken heart’. Her answer to me was simple, ‘I lose about 2 patients a year who die from a broken heart – I hope you’ll learn how to handle this pain as you’re definitely a candidate.” In just a few weeks it will mark the 10 year anniversary of my diagnosis and my son’s departure. With the enormous help of Sheri’s “Done with the Crying”, I started my own personal journey of “survival. By summer of 2018, I was completely ‘done with the crying’. Each day since has only made me stronger – it’s like ‘he died’, even though I know he didn’t . There were times I didn’t think I would survive, but I became determined I would. In retrospect, the huge issue that my son’s wife didn’t like ‘our relationship’ – and she, in fact, had succeeded in causing ‘trouble’ the year before they married. I even said to him I was afraid I’d lose him once they married. His response was ‘that will never happen’… and isn’t it odd that the following year just 2 days after my diagnosis, it ‘happened’. I will offer these words to you – please keep your faith strong as it will help carry you through. I am a living example… I’ve survived. Another difficult part of this story is this: I have grandchild that turned 8 in June – I had no idea he existed until 6 yrs ago. That little boy was told several yrs ago that I was killed in the car accident along with my sons father (my husband) who died in 1981 by a drunk driver and that’s why he doesn’t have ‘grandparents’. Mary Lou, I will keep you in my prayers – please remember you’re life counts! Find ways to reinforce that! I am an Advocate for 3 different groups: AFSP (2018), MNADV (2017), and women diagnosed with breast cancer (2013). My only goal is to help ‘save’ or ‘change’ one life at a time… there is nothing greater than to ‘give back’ to those you may help. Many blessings to you…

    2. Dawn

      I feel the same…in reading your posts it brings some comfort that I am not alone. It helps to think that although I am still asking WHY this is happening, I can still send love through prayer and meditation. I also think we should pray for ourselves and pray our hearts will heal. We are quick to want our children to be protected, but also I’m realizing we may need prayer for ourselves and compassion for ourselves

  14. KSGardenMom

    I have seen too many wills contested in court. Even when it’s not contested, it can take years to settle. We’re going on almost 3 years now for my mother in laws estate, because of disagreements between the siblings. So my husband and I opted for a trust, which removes all probate from an inheritance. And my estranged children will receive nothing. We are farmers, and I don’t know how this is in other states, but in Kansas, you can transfer land with a transfer on death deed, that also avoids probate, and gives the land directly to the one you want to inherit when you die. That’s important when you own a lot of farm ground, and the recipient can still keep farming it. So my “entitled” estranged daughters can whine all they want I guess. It won’t cause any additional problems between siblings, because there’s already no contact between the estranged and not estranged.

    1. Sherry

      My eldest son and I have been estranged now for two years. It has been torture but I am trying to work through it. I appreciate this article and comments regarding inheritance very much as that has been on my mind. While my estranged son is still in the will, my husband and I have considered changing it to remove him. I feel that since he has viciously discarded me and wants nothing to do with me in life then he should want nothing from me in death.
      I will always hope for reconciliation, but am doubtful it will happen. Sadly I will be gone and unable to see his reaction when he finds out that he gets nothing. Will he be sad that I’m gone? Would he actually have been expecting his part of the inheritance? Maybe he would realize that the result was of his doing and he got exactly what he wanted from me in his adult life…..nothing.
      You are all in my thoughts and prayers as we navigate through unwanted estrangement. It has been great comfort to know that I’m not alone.

  15. Reade A.

    Rather than leave anything to my two children and grandchildren, I am in current time helping support a very good friend who has been living out a hell with her close family.

    She’s having trouble finding a job. She doesn’t have a car so can look only for places on a bus route, which may lead to the other side of the city.

    She’s helping raise her granddaughter because her son is a drug addict and his girlfriend is seriously mentally ill. The only place she can afford to live is a sketchy neighborhood with frequent violence.

    Both of my children have good jobs and don’t want for anything. They won’t need an inheritance from me. Better I use that money now to help a beloved friend through a rough time. (Recently her son was shot six times in the butt and legs when a drug deal went bad. He lives with her drug-addicted mother, his grandmother.)

    I feel grateful every time she shares her burdens with me. It’s what I’d planned to do for my own children. I can’t think of anyone better to share my little wealth with than someone who really needs it.

    Meanwhile, I’m so over having children. I don’t miss them anymore. As far as I know, they’ve moved to Mars.

  16. Heartbroken

    After reading through these comments, I am truly heartbroken to read of all the other parents and grandparents who are enduring this horrific treatment, many by multiple adult children, as are my husband and I. We have been totally rejected by two (taking with them all of our grandchildren), held at arms-length by two, and have a good relationship with one daughter. We have revised our wills twice in the last four years, as the estranged ones pick off more siblings to join them in their absolute hatred of us. Nothing will go to our kids who have cut us out of their lives and taken our grandchildren from us, although we are leaving some to their children–our innocent grandchildren. Our wills explicitly state that so-and-so and so-and-so are intentionally left out of the will, and that if anyone disputes the will, they automatically get nothing. I am sure, as many have said, that the wording depends on the state in which one resides.

    For the two who are stiff-arming us, one will get only half of their inheritance. Despite maintaining a superficial relationship with us, they have knowingly and purposefully made the decision to hurt us after seeing their older siblings do so. The other one was young and naïve and led astray by the older ones, so that one still gets a full inheritance. For now.

    The lion’s share will, of course, go to the one daughter who honors us and wants to be a part of our lives. The rest goes to charity.

    Of course, this is all very complicated, but it seemed fairest to us. We did compose letters detailing exactly why each child received what they did, and have placed them with our will for our executor to distribute. We also are leaving letters to each grandchild who will inherit, telling them it was not our decision that we were not in their lives and how very much we missed them and loved them.

    It may be helpful to someone if I share my own experience. My brother treated our parents very poorly. He didn’t visit my father (a warm and loving man) once in the decade following my mother’s death. My dad very wisely took my brother mostly out of his will. He only received a token amount, and the rest went to me and my children (which my father would have never done if he knew how my kids would someday treat me). Since I did all the work and cared for my father the last few years of his life, I would have probably been a little bitter if my uncaring and unloving brother had gotten the same amount as me. My dad never advised my brother that he wouldn’t be getting very much, and my brother never questioned or challenged the will. I think he knew he got even more than he deserved.

  17. Eeyore

    I realized after about three years of mourning my daughter’s estrangement that she would have nothing to do with me or any of my family, but she would always cash checks I sent her. I finally said “enough”! Tired of being used, I decided I would do something to help someone instead. So fir several years now I’ve chosen gifts to send to the poor. I usually buy a goat or something like that through World Vision. Then I send her a card letting her know what gift I chose for each occasion. I feel so much better.
    As for her inheritance, there will be none. I have my will set up to leave everything down to the lint in my dryer to my local animal shelter! She never liked any of my things anyway and the shelter will get much more use from it.

    1. Virginia

      Thank you for posing this. It has given me some ideas that fit my situation. I will leave money to charities and none to my estranged children. And in the meantime, I will help a person who needs it now. I am sorry for your loss.

  18. moving on

    I love your cartoon Sherrie…i feel like that sometimes!! ha ha
    Its nearly 1 year for us….however we do have contact with grandchildren which we are grateful for. perhaps even if you dont see your grandchildren (its not their fault) consider leaving any $ in a trust fund for them? it could help for their future education etc.
    We havent as yet come to this stage but we have moved to a place of acceptance and forgiveness believing that one day our son will contact us again.
    I read a saying the other day by Oscar Wilde
    “children begin by loving their parents, and as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them”
    lets hope our estranged ones are being the BEST parents they can be and that their children always love them
    all the best to all you lovely parents..take courage we’ve all been thru a pandemic but I do believe we have a pandemic of children being estranged from loving parents too
    God bless everyone

  19. Eva M.

    Me too,
    Thanks to all who have shared their bits of their stories. I find it comforting to know I am not alone on this issue of severe sadness.
    Me too

  20. Druanne

    More income and no or smaller estate – an option instead of leaving to charity or SKI. It is difficult to spend most of our savings as we don’t know how long we will live and what expenses we will have later in life. One option is to purchase an Annuity – which is basically like buying a pension for your life (or the life of a couple). You get income for life and when you die there is no payout. This helps to not run out of money and doesn’t leave toxic money or hurt feelings. It’s not great to have your last communication (your will) being hurtful even if you have been hurt very badly.

    Also if you wish to disinherit, you can name a beneficiary(s) on certain types of accounts so that your assets bypass your will and again this avoids have to leave a sad/angry legacy in your will.

    I have definitely benefited from this newsletter and the book however still struggle greatly with the 3 year estrangement with my adult daughter, mother of my only grandchild.

    About the other comments in this thread; each situation is different, some people may need to reflect more on their role and others need to stop blaming themselves. But in both circumstances we need acceptance and support to deal with the grief, anger and all the other frustrating and confusing emotions of being rejected.

    All the best to all of you.

    1. Karen

      I have been estranged from my youngest daughter for over 8 years. When I went to a priest and told him that I would like to disinherit her, he said no. I think it’s bc it would be a hurtful act, bc I have been so deeply hurt doesn’t mean I should hurt her in return, especially since she is dirt poor. I helped her daughter in college, it didn’t soften her heart. My daughter never wrote a thank you note, my granddaughter really appreciated my help though and told me. Her father died suddenly and I helped her with a wedding. She loved him more than me because I was the disciplinarian. Oh well life is NOT fair

    2. Cynthia

      My husband and I have 3 daughters. All adults. We are estranged from the youngest. Actually, ALL of our family is estranged from our youngest..her 2 older sisters, grandparents, aunts, nieces, nephews, sons in law…everyone. We decided to leave our youngest daughter a “ lump sum” inheritance. Basically cutting her off from the rest of our assets. We felt it was our way of acknowledging she was still and always will be our daughter, whom we love but alleviating our other two daughters of all the drama she would cause once we have passed. Hope this helps. It’s been tough but some things just are.

    3. Tara

      Good advice. I too, am cutting the ED and SIL out, she will receive only 26 photo albums packed with her child hood photographs and about 50 VHS tapes of her child hood.

  21. NancyK

    You should also consider what a terrible insult it is to the child(ren) who were there for you all along to leave something to the child who behaved so callously. I know that situation all too well as my mother left half of her estate to my estranged sister, who hadn’t spoken to her for 25 years and only returned when my mother’s cancer recurred for the third time. Within two weeks of my mother’s death, my sister happily announced on her Facebook account that she had just returned from Florida “with a great tan and a new, second home”.

    My sister was thrilled with her windfall. My estranged daughter, a clone of my sister, has been disinherited. Her former share will go to charity.

    1. Lynne

      My husband’s favorite saying was, “Why should I reward bad behavior”. He excluded all of his children from his will.

    2. Cheryl

      I never thought of it this way. My daughter is estranged from me, my sister and my parents. She has my only grandchild, my parents only great grandchild, we haven’t seen in since he was an infant, 2 years ago. I also have a son that I am close too. I have been considering changing my trust to leave everything to him. Until this post, it didn’t occur to me that he is the one who is still in my life so he deserves to inherit my estate. Thank you for the insight.

  22. Susan B.

    I find this group so very supportive, as if you all know what I am thinking. I exclude the person who feels we haven’t looked in the mirror! I am about to rewrite my will, I am in Canada and this may be beneficial to Americans too, I am not sure how your society works. Here in Canada children taken into care, foster children, all age out at 18 years of age,. They are expected to suddenly live on their own with zero support. I am taking my estate and leaving it to a university that offers free tuition to aged out foster children. My gift will provide housing and food for these kids. There are so many children out there that would have loved to grow up in the home that my kids have despised. This gives me great joy to help other kids less fortunate.

    1. Jill J.

      That’s a wonderful gift to give these ‘aged-out’ kids. A warm kudos to you for doing it.!
      I find it so ironic thst there are many kids in the world who need support and love/value, and our own don’t threw it away.

  23. Stephanie A.

    I am currently struggling because of an inheritance. My husband and I are about to retire and we will only have our SS pensions. My Mom died last year and left me some money. She had changed her will because she had always included her only 2 Grand kids (my kids). The last Will did NOT include them. But generously, I decided to take from the amount I was given and give to them what she had, at one time wanted them to have. My son has not spoken to me (or anyone including close friends, and his sibling since he married into a very hate filled family and a hate fueled girl. 6 years. Same old story. We were very close prior to her. Anyway as I warned him when he got involved, he would be bankrupt if he gave her things he could not afford. And now, I know, thru public records that indeed they are. She has not worked since they filed Chapter 13, have moved to yet another state because she likes “adventure” (the 3rd since he married her in 2016) I now found out from a new filing that she is pregnant. I sent him an email after my Mom died and told him that I wanted to give him the money. Asked how could I do that, without letting him know that I know about the bankruptcy. He sent me (again) a 3 page email stating how horrible I was and all kinds of false accusations AGAIN. He ended by saying he needed the money to “take care of Libby”. I finally had enough and told him that he would get nothing until he apologized profusely and meant it. That I was sick of being his scapegoat, when in fact I had done EVERYTHING to help him have a better life, at EVERY TURN. That was before I knew she was pregnant. And before she was. So, on his birthday and hers, I sent cards and enclosed money to buy baby needs (crib, stroller etc) I know they don’t have to tell their trustee if they get cards. I feel guilty (as I always have) for not giving him the money that he could certainly use now. I know his life is crap. I waver back and forth. I need the money myself but I (as most parents do) have always put my kids needs over mine. But there is this baby coming. My first Grand child! And although I likely will never hold that child or love on it, it is of my blood and somehow has already taken up space in my heart, My emotions go from being so angry at him for getting into this mess and for attacking me to feeling heartbreak at knowing what a shitty life he now has without ANYONE close to him, that cares. Her parents are holier than thou types who told us what a shitty daughter she was the first time we met and how they wanted her to do things their way in this relationship with our son. Now, they are in like dirty shirts and refuse to take our calls. In fact, they would not even pass along to my son that my Mom died. Sorry this is long but when I saw “SKI” I felt the need to share.

    1. Karen

      Dear Stephanie,
      The mind is very powerful and you must begin to realize that your job as “mother” is finished. Buying things will probably not soften their hearts, even though you love them. Try to pray for them. Money does NOT buy love. Keep busy and tell yourself you were a terrific mother. Do not dwell. Let them come to you and do not over indulge.

    2. Barbara M.

      Hi Stephanie, I’m so sorry about your mom. I’m also sorry about your son. Your story sounds almost identical to mine. Raised my son on my own and put him above everything and after he married it all started. He knows he’s living a lie but there is a precious little boy in the picture now so I think that makes it very hard for him to get out of this narcissistic relationship. He left last year for about 3 weeks but went back. He even told me while he was moved out that he went along with a lot of things that he should have never went along with. It is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Same story though- I reach out and all the lies of how I was so terrible was,am is his response. The first time I couldn’t believe what I was reading and then thereafter started to see what was happening. I pray about it all the time and hope
      someday it will look different. I wish you the best.

  24. Diana L.

    I have thought long and hard about this issue. I have a mentally ill daughter and we are raising her two children. I have and estranged son who blames me for all of his life’s woe’s and an estranged daughter who is mad that we are raising her sister’s children. I also have a stepdaughter who we have a good relationship with. We are splitting our inheritance equally between all four children because I didn’t raise my children to be be blaming, mean, addicted or take the road they are taking. I love my children no matter the sum of the worst thing they have done to me. So what I am leaving is just worldly things that I am not taking with me with the message that they were unconditionally love by me. That doesn’t mean I am not going to spend my money and have a good time while I am living.

    1. Suzanne W.

      I totally agree with this approach. This is what my husband and I have decided to do, as well. For me, it is not about what is best for my daughter or what she will think – I have long given up trying to figure out what she thinks about anything. But this is what makes me comfortable. I have three step daughters who are very close to their father who I am not close to at all. My daughter has allied herself with them and they are part of the estrangement problem ( I am the wicked witch, shall we say). My husband and I are keeping it simple – four equal shares and that keeps the peace between my husband and I – that is what is important to me at this stage of the game. If my husband passes before me, I know I will have many challenges ahead with these hateful girls, I do what I can to protect myself and keep a peaceful state of mind.

  25. Deborah B.

    I have been following this site for a few years as I travelled through the ups and downs of on and off again estrangement. I have worked weekly with a counselor and , in meditation, to own my part , and…it has been very complex. 8 years later, I realize I am no longer willing to be the one who does all the work and, I am not sure I want them back….in fact, I don’t want them back as they are. I don’t like them and, we have nothing in common. They are abusers ( my son and his nasty, self righteous wife who is the instigator of this mess). I tried everything for years, to please them….nothing worked, because they are both in need of a dose of reality. The pandemic was the endpoint for me as I watched her conspiracy theories, raging, then, yet again got cut out of her life for being ‘condescending’, when I wrote a cheerful upbeat note, on mother’s day.
    And, my son….who is now a verbal abuser too. Setting boundaries doesn’t work, being kind doesn’t work. I finally realize they must meet me in the middle and, change their attitude or, and, I will not initiate contact. They have neither time or interest in me, but expect me to send cards and gifts to the children I am not allowed to see or visit. And, I am done. What worries me, is wondering….am I wrong to say ‘to hell with them’?. I have been asking myself this for a long time. And, putting myself in the midst of their verbal and emotional abuse, is all wrong for me. I will not let them back into my life until they start treating me as a mother should be treated….a loving, generous mother who went too far to try to please them.

    This is surfacing for me as his birthday comes around. He is a stranger to me now. Why would I acknowledge him? Last year, she tore up the cheque I sent to him. Classic.

    1. Dia C.

      Oh my gosh, you hit the nail on the head. Is my son even a person I would seek out for a friend? Absolutely not! He is mean, narcissistic, has no empathy for anyone. He is arrogant and has a superiority complex. He labeled me and all of our family as stupid idiots simply because we live in Texas. My 96 year old mother reaches out to him every month by voice mail or text. Never a response from him. How can anyone do that to a 96 year old grandmother who has been nothing but supportive his whole life. Would I want someone like that in my life? Absolutely not!!!! Our values are so far apart. I have no trust that someone like that could ever change. There is no way we could be family again.

    2. Linda

      I have dealt with this very thing for 13 years. We were all a very close family until his wife came into the picture. Acted fine until wedding, then she started the lies, twisting everything, we had never seen such a jeckel and Hyde. When my husband/his father passed of cancer at 65, he finally arranged 3 visits to see our grandkids for the first time, 4 and 9 months she had a made up problem with each visit. Her and her mom felt they were better than most people . She would not let him talk to us at funeral and that is on him for putting up with being controlled even with her threats of divorce. I have finally given up trying to have a relationship my foot is open if he decides but I don’t know him anymore and don’t like who he has become . Wouldn’t give me socials to put kids in as beneficiaries am only leaving him a small percentage for the years he was our son snd because it is what my husband requested. Am exhausted from trying for 13 years and am done. Peace to you

    3. Theresa D.

      Dear Deb,
      Your situation seems to match very closely to mine. My heart goes out to you.
      My estrangement has been going on for 4 years and I am not able to see my grandchildren or even a picture. They moved to my town and I could run into them anywhere I go. Strange it hasn’t happened.
      I too was ripped apart for sending kind words, gifts and cards. . I have been a respected teacher of young children for 30 years and yet she sent me 11 pages degrading my character . The hardest part is that my son has gone along with her and turned against me and my entire family including my 97 year old mom.
      I also don’t want them back the way they were. So self righteous. I am not ready to give up. I send texts monthly and letters on holidays with no response. My husband and I did everything we could to be loving supportive parents and grand parents. Coaches, scout leaders , never missed anything he was involved with. Three sports a year for years and never missed a game. Took them on 2 vacations a year. My husband renovated their entire house. We loved them with all our hearts and I still do. My husband is extremely angry and won’t even talk about it anymore.
      The pain never ends. My husband wants to take him out of our will and I just can’t yet.
      Thank you for sharing your story. There is comfort in hearing your story and know that we are not alone.

    4. Lori

      You are not at all wrong to say “to hell with them!” It’s a matter of self-preservation and being kind to yourself. A friend of mine who is active in Al-Anon told me one of their sayings is “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Repeating this saying has been enormously helpful to me when I start to feel sad about my son’s estrangement choice. And he is getting ZIP in my will–there are too many deserving charity organizations for me to throw my money away on him.

    5. Danielle

      Wow! You sound exactly like me.. that is where I am at…. after doing back flips and never being enough… I stopped trying… they never reach out and so .. ok.. I am done.. I deserve an apology for all their garbage… I no longer choose abuse over alone.. Alone is fine and even far better as it is stress free and peaceful. Done with the abuse, done with the being their scape goat and done with the crying too. God bless you and stay strong and know God is close to his broken hearted ones.

  26. C N

    For those of you who are grandparents, did you know that adult children who deny grandparents visitation rights, communication etc. that this is considered “Elder Abuse!” There are groups for Alienated grandparents!

  27. CN

    After a lot of tears, and thought, my husband and I decided not to leave anything to our estranged adult children. However our lawyer told us that if we did that, they could come back and contest the will. Therefore we left a minimal amount of cash to each one of them. Sad as this situation is, I have a step daughter and step son who have been wonderful and I am giving them everything .

    1. Cynthia

      You are correct…see my response above..we did not disinherit our youngest daughter, we left her a “ lump sum” so that this issue would not arise and cause drama for our oldest 2 daughters. Leave something so that once you are gone, your estate and attorney will know you acknowledged them.

  28. MLM

    Dear FarmGirl. Very sorry for your pain, one of my three has been estranged on and off for five years. So hurtful. Anyway, just fyi, consider talking to a lawyer about the differences between Wills and Trusts. Wills are discoverable, can be contested and have to go through probate. Trusts are different, are not discoverable (unless you share it) and avoid probate. Check it out, it may give you more peace of mind. Best wishes for a peaceful rest of your life. A fellow farm girl.

  29. Elizabeth L.

    Last year at this time, I was hunkering down for the winter, having moved to a rural area, just to lick my wounds.
    This last year has given me time to think. I’ve now just sold my house at a profit, and I’m coming back to life.
    My friends are waiting for me to arrive back at the place I call home and I’m ready to go back to work after the pandemic, there’s a world out there away from my rural isolation.
    My will gives the proceeds from my home and contents, plus any money left over from my pension pot are being equally divided between the WWF for nature, FourPaws, SPANA, HSI international and RSPCA.
    Nothing to my selfish daughter, who plotted for years how to get her money’s worth out of me ( her words), and who moved on to another mark when I’d done everything I could for her, including a top class education.
    Now she prefers her boyfriend and his family, who knew her plans to ditch me before I did. He screens her emails, texts and phone calls are rerouted to his phone and she has given up her independence to live in his family home and pay them rent.
    So I m going to do the world tour I thought I’d be doing with her. There’s a bucket list to be worked.
    Thanks for the uplifting article Sheri, and to everyone who has posted their moving and enlightening stories.

    1. J.

      Hi Elizabeth! Your post gives me peace that moving on is the right decision. My eldest daughter plotted with her husband to ditch us right after we gave them a $30,000 wedding and honeymoon to Hawaii. She was hiding the fact that her husband and his family are alcoholics and drink heavily everyday. We asked them not to drink when they came to our house, but that was asking too much. Her husband couldn’t pry his lips from a beer bottle for more than 2 hours. Our youngest daughter came home from college and dropped the bomb that she was gay. We pleaded with her and tried to reason with her to no avail. We allowed her to live with us to become financially stable and gave her $25,000 to pay off student loans. We told her we loved her very much but couldn’t support her lifestyle, but that wasn’t good enough. She wanted us to “celebrate” who she was, but never considered our feelings and who we are. She married another woman last Halloween (yes, on Halloween) and now they are divorced. I tried to reach out to her by letter and she totally tore me apart on Facebook when I said nothing wrong. I am done with the crying and trying, what do they expect? As far as we are concerned, they got their inheritance. My husband and I are moving to another state to retire and starting a new life. Good luck to you!

  30. Mary L.

    A great article and helpful responses. We are estranged from our 39 year old son who went off the rails 4 years ago spiritually and politically. After receiving a scathing letter cursing us out for all of our failures, he cut the cord-no responses from our emails. The grandkids have been yanked out from under us as well. Last year, we made out our will and decided after prayer to leave him out. Our daughter, who still lives in our area (he does not) is the sole recipient of our estate-our relationship is not as good as it was, but at least we see her several times a year. We have been pretty much wiped out financially due to burn out issues of my husband over the last 20 years which depleted all of our savings. We do have a house that will be paid for next year and she is willing to dispose of all that she doesn’t want. Of course, we have left the door open to reconciliation with our son and changing our will if that happens. At this point, it doesn’t look too promising.

    1. Corene F.

      It took my husband and me a while to come to the same conclusion as many of you have. We are on our third period of estrangement from our oldest son. Typically these last about 3 yrs then we will go through a year or two of a walking on eggshells type relationship until one thing or another causes yet another round of scathing verbally abusive texts or emails from him and we are back to being “ cut off” This current estrangement feels more likely to be permanent although he has reached out to me to “ have coffee” next time I am in the town they live in… minus my husband/his dad. Not sure how I feel about that. But to answer your question… after much much prayer and wrestling back and forth we, too, after discussing it with our lawyer also excluded him from our wills. Per our lawyer if you go so far as to in writing and very explicitly state that this person is excluded then there should be issues. He even videotaped us stating this as well to accompany our written wills. Wills can always be changed later if things change.

  31. Bettina Z.

    Yay! This just confirms what I’ve already concluded I am going to SKI my life through older age. I have no desire to leave my child anything. Am I thinking she made the choice to cut herself off from family, so why should she benefit from family. Not one word the whole epidemic I tried to call at the beginning and her husband was rude to me. We gave her $10,000 that she completely blew and lied to about. It’s been a long road, and taken a lot of tears & tapping, but the pain is slowly subsiding, and I’m slowly accepting the reality that my daughter is gone, and I likely will not see her again, nor my (now 2 and 1/2 year old grandson). I’m making my own family, I am Grandma to other kids, and doing the best I can with what life has given me. In a strange, deep way I’m grateful for this experience because it has given me the deepest compassion for my own self that I spread onto others. I know I’m not a monster, I know I am a dear sweet Soul who is kind, loving and good at heart, and getting to know myself deeper, letting go of Shame, pain and trauma Etc has been a great gift, and for that I thank my daughter and I love her for. I hope that someday in another realm I can Embrace her again. :(::::::::

    1. Angela W.

      I have found this power play of discarding a loving parent is a result of some narcissism spectrum. Whether it be the child or the spouse of the child or both. Great power in making you suffer by cutting you off from the grandbabies. Immersing yourself in spoiling yourself and embracing those outside can bring relief from this evil and cruel action. The reason you know it’s not you is because you questioned whether or not it was you. Trust me, they never questioned themselves if it was them. Unfortunately, their brains and eyes are tainted with everything you do. Every step you take is considered some kind of manipulation. Stay strong, consider you know have permission to have your own life. Travel, join events and groups, make friends, start friendships.

    2. Karen

      You will embrace your daughter in heaven. Jesus wants you to be happy. I give up my pain as I too suffer from estrangement. My daughters are very mean to me. I offer it up as penance for my sins and other family members sins. If we make it to heaven as I know I will, if they don’t make it I will forget all about them. Life is NOT fair. Their father died when my oldest was 21 and her sister was 18, he was in an accident. I gave them both beautiful weddings and helped them financially. I helped my oldest pay for her children’s clothes, shoes and cars. I never hear from them anymore. My heart is too big. My youngest cut me out of her life about 8 years ago. So all you can do is pray for them. Just know it’s not your fault the devil works hard. Emotionally immature adults are everywhere in our society, thinking the world owes them.

  32. 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

  33. 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

    4. Grace G.

      My husband and I have similarly left our meager estate to only one of our four. She is the one who will take responsibility for our well being one day. We were willing and happy to give of our resources even when the others were clearly using us. Now we are called toxic, and we are cut off
      So, nope, we have not informed them that they are now cut off. I trust they will take good care of themselves ,and, as always, love them, but I see no reason to give considerations to them in our will.


    5. Angela W.

      Every situation is different. I would lean towards not saying anything since you have a concern that might happen. It’s actually none of their business. It’s sad it has come to this as I’m sure you would have loved to help them. Perhaps nieces and nephews might be more worthy.

    6. Dee

      My lawyer told me to call my son while I was in her office and let him know. I called and told him I would like to give his inheritance to his children and he said that was fine. I didn’t come out and tell him the real reason why I was doing that which is that they cut me out of their lives. My other two children plus their children will all receive inheritance.

    7. Hadassah

      Believe me, they will know (after you are gone) there are consequences. I’ve decided not to tell my estranged daughter that I have removed her from the Family Trust which I set up about a decade ago. I met with the Trustee and we signed the paperwork in front of a notary to remove her. She may never find out just how much was at stake. She was abusive to me and I had enough and moved 18 months ago to a different location about 1 1/2 hours away and am now so much happier. I am working through some thoughts about making my only grandchild, a 2 1/2 year old boy, a successor beneficiary at 25% and my son at 75% when my grandson is around 25 years of age. At this point, I hope he will be better able to handle the money better. My son has always been much closer to me and he will be rewarded the lion’s share. I pray that someday she will realize what she has done and repent for her wickedness. If she does and shows me over time that she means it (before I die) then I will give her a share of the extra 25% that I gave my son. So my son will be at 50%, Grandson 25% and my Daughter 25%. Until then I am going to enjoy my life, my son and thank God I am no longer being abused by her. By-The-Way, my son does not know about the Trust either, and this is how I know he loves me regardless of the money. One day, he will know there are not only consequences but, in his case (rewards) for his good behavior. If your children already know about your wealth, they should be treating you like gold. But to know about your wealth and treat you like dirt is like them doubling down on their wicked behavior. I would give a child like that nothing. They will hate you either way. Reward the good and forget about the wicked.

  34. 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…

      1. 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

    7. Carrie-Ann

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

    8. Vickie

      Dear Bunny,

      I am not sure why you are on a sight for estranged parents if you have reconciled your relationship, I have to wonder if you are seeking help with what may be a broken reconciliation. A few of the ladies have alluded that there may be trouble without out actually calling it out. It is almost to obvious that you may be in a bargaining phase of grief, We tend to look to hard at our own faults when we are trying to fix something that we don’t really have any power to fix. As most of the responses have illustrated I can guarantee everyone who has dealt with the rejection of their own child has most definitely looked in the mirror at their own issues and probably magnified them as well. Just reading the story of how Sheri McGregor’s son ended his relationship with her family illustrated for me how easy this can happen with only one simple misunderstanding. And while it is possibly true that estranged parents played a part in things messing up, It might be as simple as We stopped being doormats. Or someone poisoned their minds to our value to their lives.
      I like all the other people in this group who are truly looking to heal and help other to heal wish you all the luck with your reconciled relationship and I hope that it is truly one of mutual respect, if it is not I hope you will take the time to read Sheri’s research. It may help you deal with what ever YOUR issues are. You may be surprised.

    9. sue

      As a parent of two estranged children, I spend an inordinate amount of time blaming myself and dealing with my issues. But eventually, that cycle has to stop, or at least lessen, in order to find some peace of mind. It’s been very destructive to see myself as the only one at fault these years, wondering what went wrong and looking for ways to figure it all out and fix it. I reach out to my kids – a text or an email; birthday and Christmas cards and a small gift, etc. and haven’t heard one word back. For my son it’s been 7 years and 2 years with my daughter. They also don’t speak to each other. There’s was no one thing, no “incident”, one day my son just –out of the blue — stop responding to anything I sent him, with no explanation. And a couple years ago, my daughter did the same thing. I do accept any part I had in this, and I have apologized and left all doors open for communication. What hurts so much is that we always had so much fun together – laughing, playing, long talks, shopping, etc. and now… nothing at all.

    10. Rhonda


      What more can I say but ‘EXACTLY!’ You know that the words you wrote, the discernment you received, came from the Holy Spirit, during the night. YOU nailed it for the times we are in, today, forewarned by Jesus Himself and the Apostles. Thank you for writing exactly what I was feeling when I read Bunny’s comment.

    11. Angela W.

      That may be true for some. I would say in this age of entitled generation they have more to do with it than our poor or middle class raised generation. Today many have excelled and they have forgotten that they did it on the backs of the previous generation and the previous one to that. Regardless, there should be an honoring of that role and in many cases I read about, it’s the power the adult children wield that they secretly enjoy. They have to live with their actions.

    12. Angela W.

      Something that helped me is understanding that adult children do sometimes go off on their own. They want to forge their own existence and family. My parents did it by immigrating. I did it by immigrating. Now after my own children I want the opposite. I want them near me, the grandchildren a part of my life. I didn’t give that to my parents and siblings and they didn’t give it to theirs either. So part of estrangement can be this issue. Additionally, trouble can occur when there is a spouse. Then they have children. I wonder how many got estranged after the grandchildren arrived. Would be a good poll.

    13. Joanie

      Hello Bunny –

      I understand people questioning the parents of estranged children. I am estranged from both my son and daughter. Unfortunately, not all circumstances are the same. In my case, I am the victim (as are my children) of parental alienation, as my ex-husband brainwashed them to believe things that weren’t true. I am not saying I haven’t made mistakes; but I have examined ‘minutely’ why this happened to me. My children can’t tell me what it is I supposedly did. Regardless of the reasons why, we need to be gentle and kind to each other as we are in many cases still grieving the loss of our children.

    14. Louise K.

      My daughter started when she was a teenager. She is now 30 years old and trust me, I have looked in the mirror with a fine tooth comb.

      She refuses to tell me what I did. She has said to my husband, “ I should know what I said and done to her.
      How does a mother remember what I said and did to her when she was a hormonal teenager ?

    15. moving on

      Yes Bunny I guess we all did…..we have all done a LOT of self reflection… No parent is perfect except one in Heaven.
      Its lovely that you are now reconciled and I do hope it continues for you. I do think though that you have to have boundaries so as not to open yourself to be hurt so badly again. That has nothing to do with not forgiving but just ‘protecting’ yourself
      All the best to you

    16. Danielle

      Wow! You sound very judgemental… watch out about saying things so harshly as they may just come back and bite you in the ass! Most of us do look in the mirror and have gone over all our mistakes and then some over and over and over in our minds….None of us are perfect and none of us knows the life the other parents have gone through nor the treatment they received from often very narcissistic children… the blame is not to be amplified by a complete stranger… what are you even doing on this site if that is how you come across? We do NOT need more harshness but compassion. God bless you and I hope your reconciliation sticks and is a healthy one!

  35. 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!!!

  36. 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.

    1. Ruth H.

      This article is very interesting because I have always said my estranged daughter will get everything when I die. But now I’m wondering for the first time if she will be accepting of it. I had not considered it toxic money and assets. I had not considered that she might allow it to just sit there intouched. I rescue cats, have been doing so since 2002. Perhaps a good Back-up Plan would be leaving my inheritance to a deserving nonprofit rescue. So that is my point. I would never leave it to a city or county shelter, as most euthanize so many pets without trying to find them homes. A private rescue would be much better in my opinion.

    2. Terri M.

      Ruth H., look into Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab Utah. We volunteered for a week there and it was life changing. They will put your money to good use. That is where some of our money is going.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

    1. Darlene

      Gene I found your post to be so close to what is going on with my family and Will. I married a second time and my husband ,their stepfather, since the boys were 10 and eleven. I have two more children with their stepfather. We moved to SC for financial reasons and both boys now 35 and 37 are still living in Il. To make a long story short, my sons have never visited us in the last 10 years and do not acknowledge my younger children who were 11 and 14 when we moved to SC. 10 years of no birthday , graduation, Christmas… for my two younger children and their stepfather. I am upset with my two boys from my first marriage ! Well, my husband, their stepfather, is leaving them nothing including their children. At first I said it wasn’t fair but after 10 years of erasing my husband and their stepsister and stepbrother. I agree with him. He has been the sole support for all the kids financially, as I was a stay at home mother. We wrote a living will that leaves all of our possessions we acquired, house, antique cars, money…… to his biological children. I’m the mother of all 4 kids but agree with my husband. They rejected him and their stepsister and brother the last ten years. They will never know as I don’t disclose that information.

  40. 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?!

  41. 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!!

  42. 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.

    1. Andrea J.

      I agree 100%. My son EXPECTS everything I have because he is and has always been entitled! After three years of not hearing from him…..with a pandemic and the death of my mother, I am definitely considering writing him out of my will. Why I haven’t done so already……I don’t know.

  43. 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.

    1. Katherine

      Oldest son and family estranged from our entire family. Our attorney advised not to disinherit, not to omit, due to possible challenges! He advised to leave equally.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

    3. Patricia

      Thank you for expressing your fears about aging and who will be there for you. I’ve been helping my mother a lot lately and it brings in to focus that I will not have a child to help me through that part of my life. It’s sad that I hope I go first as my husband has a daughter who will take care of -him as he ages.

      I have also been struggling with what to do regarding my will. I have decided my estate will go to my stepdaughter and grandchildren.

      Thanks again for your comments I have been scared to actually voice these concerns.

  46. 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).

  47. 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….

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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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