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Should Parents Be Prohibited From Disinheriting Their Children?

I'm an aspiring writer, but overall, I am an American who seeks a better United States of America. Come join me in my journey of truth.

This picture is from the clipart of the Microsoft Word 2000 application.

This picture is from the clipart of the Microsoft Word 2000 application.

A. Introduction

When I was a little kid, there was this one family that lived two doors down from my residence. The father’s name was Mario, and the mother’s name was Rita. Mario was Spanish European, and Rita was German. They had a son named Hansy and a daughter named Sandra. Mario and Rita had developed quite a reprehensible reputation for themselves among their neighbors. My parents absolutely hated them after this couple had ripped them off more than enough times. Mario had once poisoned his next-door neighbor’s cat to death, and his next-door neighbor was a kind woman who had regularly baked chocolate chip cookies for the kids in the neighborhood. Mario had threatened his other next-door neighbor that he was going to shoot her dog dead. Rita always went along with Mario’s shenanigans until, of course, he broke up with her and threw her out of his house without any of her belongings. I could give you an entire grocery list of Mario’s transgressions. However, for the sake of staying on topic, I will just trust that most of you by now realize that Mario was not a desirable person to have as a neighbor.

To the best of my knowledge, Mario never struck Hansy or Sandra. However, he was a master manipulator, and I have found hints here and there that he was psychologically abusive with his children. I know that at one point, Hansy had to go to a psychiatrist because of emotional problems that he was suffering. Anyhow, after Hansy and Sandra were adults, Mario had other marriages. However, he never cleaned up his act. He went on being the same manipulative scoundrel that he always was. One of my childhood buddies was married to Sandra for a short while, and he absolutely detested having Mario as a father-in-law. Rita went on to marry someone else, and her personality changed for the better inasmuch as she was no longer under Mario’s corrosive influence.

At one point in time, Hansy was having financial difficulties. He was in a situation where he needed a place to live. By that point in time, Mario was a wealthy man after having ripped off so many people. He owned various properties and houses, and Rita phoned him to ask him if Hansy could stay temporarily in one of the houses that Mario owned and was empty at the time, until Hansy could get back on his feet financially. Being the selfish scoundrel that he was, Mario told her no. He had all this money and property, and he would not even help his own offspring out of a difficult situation. As you probably have already suspected, Rita became extremely furious at Mario. However, he would not change his mind, and he acted as though Hansy was not his problem.

When I was growing up, despite all of the undesirable characteristics that Rita had when she was still married to Mario, one characteristic that I always found commendable about her was that she looked out for her children’s best interests. She even argued with little kids whenever they had disagreements with her kids. It could be entertaining to watch her stand there and argue with the neighborhood bully after he had picked a fight with Hansy. Anyhow, when I had heard that she had gone up to bat for Hansy with Mario after Hansy had told her that he needed a place to live, I was very proud of her. Regardless of anything that anybody could have ever said about her, I would have to say that one thing that she got right was that she has always been a good mother to her kids. I did not find out what kind of living arrangements she made for Hansy after his father had refused to allow him to live in one of his houses, but I am sure that Rita did much more for Hansy at that one point in time than Mario had ever done for him in a lifetime.

The story about Hansy and Sandra began to get really sad when the time came that neither one of them had heard from their father in a while. By then, Mario had been married; and don’t ask me how many times that he had been married after he divorced Rita, because I lost count after he got married the second time around. This man had no scruples and no sense of stability. Anyhow, Hansy went to Mario’s residence to visit him. After he walked up to his front door and rang the doorbell, a woman answered the door. That woman was Mario’s most recent wife. She told Hansy that Mario had died of some kind of lung-related ailment so many months earlier. If I remember the story correctly, I believe that Mario had been dead for seven months by the time that Hansy had come to his residence to visit him. The major injustice in this whole scenario is that Mario had not left even one red cent to Hansy or Sandra. Instead, his current wife inherited his entire estate. Also, she was unwilling to share any of the inheritance with Hansy or Sandra. There was no will as far as I know, and there was nothing that Hansy and Sandra could do legally about the situation despite all the years of emotional abuse that they had apparently suffered at the hands of their father.

If you feel outraged in hearing this story, let me tell you about another infuriating situation that was even more tragic than this one. When I was living out in California back in the 1990s, I met this one family through my job that was going through difficult times. The mother’s name was Victoria. She had four kids. I actually mentioned about her and her second oldest daughter, Crystal, in my article titled “Are People Who Talk To Themselves Mentally Deranged?” She had been married to a violent and psychologically manipulative husband named David. Her husband had also beaten on three of her four kids. She finally took her kids and moved out of his residence. There is also even a bigger tragedy to this story. Her father-in-law had molested her two oldest daughters when they were toddlers, and her husband, David, had taken sides with the father-in-law, who was his stepfather. Her husband was earning a six-figure income a year, and he was an heir to a very large inheritance from his mother and stepfather once they were to die.

Victoria’s mother-in-law did things only to compound the situation. She told all of Victoria’s kids that she was making sure that they never got even one thin dime of her and her husband’s estate once she and her husband died. David also backed up his mother’s actions. It was as though Victoria’s mother-in-law were using the family fortune as a bargaining chip to pressure Victoria into dropping the criminal charges against David and his stepfather for what they both had done to her and her children. At one point, Victoria’s son, Aaron, was so furious that he threw a toaster at her mother-in-law’s head; and considering all the nonsense that she was putting Victoria and her kids through at the time, I couldn’t quite have blamed him for doing so despite that this old lady was his paternal grandmother.

Hearing stories like these disgust and anger me as well as many other people. Unfortunately, none of these stories are unique. Underage children and adult children are always getting disinherited for the most unjust reasons throughout the United States of America. When I was working at a call center about a decade and a half ago, I remember this one group of women, including my supervisor, who were having a conversation about incest. They were all four talking about people they knew personally whom had fallen victim to it as children. I then jumped into the conversation, and I told them that the inheritance laws needed to be changed in our country to protect and prohibit kids from being cut out of their parents’ or their grandparents’ will in all cases of childhood abuse. All four of these women just stood there and stared at me for a couple of minutes. However, not one of them disagreed with me. They just all thought that it was somewhat odd that I had brought up this one point and had contributed it to their conversation. At the same time, they all saw the logic to what I was saying, and they could not have agreed more with me than they did.

Every time one of us opens up a newspaper or turns on the television set to watch the news, there are always stories surfacing about incidents of childhood abuse and every kind of horror that could possibly happen to some of the smallest and most defenseless victims of society. When I was temping at a social services agency so many years ago, I had a conversation with this one social worker who handled cases of child abuse. She told me that she had investigated some of the most heinous cases of it in wealthy families. She explained to me that rich families seemed to have more incidents of child abuse than middle-income and low-income families, because the patriarch in these families knew that he had the money to cover up his crimes and even hire sophisticated legal representation to get himself either a light sentence or no sentence at all for his crimes. That is, once he retained the best lawyer that money could buy, there was always a likelihood that he could beat the criminal charges against him. Well, the injustice of how rich parents get away with these crimes doesn’t end there.

An abusive father and even an abusive grandfather can use an estate in a will as a bargaining chip to scare his children and grandchildren out of reporting him to the police for his crimes against them. This kind of blackmail can go on for years long after the child victims have grown up in that the abusive father can coerce his kids into staying quiet about the abuse to others. Even though it is usually the father or the grandfather who engages in this sort of criminal behavior, a mother or grandmother can also engage in it as well, depending on who controls the purse strings to the family fortune.

In the very first article that I published on the Hubpages website, which is titled “Beware Of Junk Science Regarding Older Fathers,” I praised President Donald J. Trump for being a loving and caring father to his youngest son, Barron Trump, and to his other kids. I found it admirable that an ultra-wealthy man like him could put himself out of his way as he has done to protect his kids from harm and to ensure that they had a promising future. Unfortunately, not all men of affluent means like him are as decent parents as he is.

Alexandra_Koch is the author of this photograph.

Alexandra_Koch is the author of this photograph.

B. The American Inheritance Laws Vs. The Inheritance Laws Abroad

France has some very rigid laws on their books to prevent parents from disinheriting their children for any reason. Even other European countries like Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and Spain have put safeguards in place on their law books regarding the inheritance-related distribution of an estate to ensure that no parent arbitrarily leaves their offspring high and dry after that parent passes away. However, in figurative words, the United States of America is a whole different ballgame in this respect. If a parent wishes to disinherit one of their children in 49 states of our nation plus the District of Columbia, that parent doesn’t even have to have a reason to do so. That parent could have abused their child for years and could have left that child homeless on some street corner after he or she turned 18 years old, and that parent would not have to leave that same child even one red cent in their will. The YouTube video below explains how the inheritance laws work here in the land of milk and honey.

An Explanation Of A Parent's Current Option To Disinherit Their Children Under The American Laws

The only state in our country that has what is called “forced heirship laws” that prohibit parents from disinheriting their children is Louisiana, and these laws are set in stone in the Louisiana Constitution. I believe that the reason that Louisiana has these same laws that prohibit parents from disinheriting their children is because the French originally settled in this state, and this state’s constitution was even originally written in French back in 1812. It’s like that proverb that says that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In this case, Louisiana obviously created these laws to mirror those of France that prohibit parents from disinheriting their children. Unfortunately, there are loopholes in this same Louisiana law. The YouTube video below explains what they are.

An Explanation Of The Loopholes In Louisiana's Forced Heirship Laws

C. The Adverse Impact Of American Inheritance Laws Upon Society

Many of you reading this article here of mine have likely seen the movie titled Mommie Dearest about how actress Joan Crawford physically, verbally, and emotionally abused her adoptive daughter, Christina Crawford, for years and years. If you did, then you probably remember the last scene in that same movie that showed that Joan Crawford had left both of her adoptive children out of her will. Christina Crawford was ultimately lucky in that she was an intelligent woman who knew how to take control of the situation and do what she had to do legally to make matters right for her and her adoptive brother regarding their adoptive mother’s estate to the best of her ability. However, the sad reality is that many kids who have suffered all forms of abuse at the hands of a violent and manipulative parent end up poor and even homeless after they reach adulthood.

When I have surfed on YouTube, I have come across comments that people have posted regarding their tragic stories on how they had suffered abuse at the hands of a parent and had ultimately ended up homeless and even hooked on drugs. Other adult survivors of child abuse may have been lucky enough to have a reliable job and a good home and perhaps even a stable family of their own, but these individuals still struggle with issues encompassing their parents. They should not have to be subjected to a major legal battle to get their fair share of their parents’ estate after their parents pass away.

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Americans are constantly preaching and bragging on YouTube and all over the Internet about how our people are noteworthy for protecting children here in the United States of America. Child advocates throughout our nation are always boasting about how they got a legislator to toughen sentences against dangerous child predators and other people who abuse children. It is no secret that our nation likely has the toughest child abuse laws in the world. Our court system even surpasses the United Kingdom in punishing child predators and child abusers. I would have to agree that the British are more aggressive than Americans are about apprehending perpetrators of these crimes. However, whenever a child predator or a child abuser stands before an American judge in a court of law here in our country, he or she is definitely destined to receive a harsher and lengthier sentence than a child predator or a child abuser who stands before a British judge in a court of law over in the United Kingdom. With all these points being said, what I cannot understand is why our nation does not have laws that prohibit parents from disinheriting their children in all 50 states instead of just one state. Former United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales once even made a statement to the public that most child abuse crimes here in our country are committed by parents against their own children.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that some of you out there who are reading my article are older individuals who have friends whose adult children are absolutely awful people and have done awful things. You may even have adult children who fit that description. Also, I’m not mindless of the fact that even a simple mention about inheritance can be a sore subject for aging parents whenever their kids just so happen to bring it up in a passing conversation.

Believe me. I’m well aware of how a parent can be whenever such a subject is brought up even casually in the course of a seemingly innocent face-to-face chat. However, I believe that the problem with poverty and even homelessness among adult survivors of child abuse is something that we Americans have to handle in a collective approach, or this problem is only going to get worse in our country. Some of you may find it more convenient to ignore the homeless people who approach you on the street, begging for money. However, every time this problem continues to grow, the crime rate in our country continues to get worse. Moreover, this problem is contributing to the growing number of people on welfare. My personal feelings about this topic is that if someone believes that they would ever be unwilling to include their own child in their will, then that person should not even be procreating kids in the first place. The Canadians are already taking an awareness about this situation in their country as you will see in the YouTube video below.

A Canadian Approach To Inheritance Laws

In my article titled “Should Deadbeat Teenage Fathers Be Drafted?”, I described the problem with deadbeat teenage fathers throughout our nation. Some of these deadbeat teenage fathers will move on with their lives to work for a much better quality of life that does not include the child that they fathered with a teenage girl when they were in middle school or high school. Passing laws in every state that would prohibit parents from disinheriting their biological children would provide further safeguards against such deadbeat teenage fathers evading their parental responsibilities that they owe their children.

The other day when I was watching a news program on television, one of the points that one of the news reporters brought up was the fact that there were fewer babies being born nowadays than there were years ago. Also, people are now living longer than they did in the past. That news reporter explained that as a result of both this major decline in childbirths and this significant increase in elderly people’s longevity, so many decades from now, there will be more elderly people collecting social security benefits than there will be young and middle-aged people paying taxes into that same system here in the United States of America. If I remember that news story accurately, the news reporter explained that there would be one eligible taxpayer from those younger generations paying taxes into the system for every 55 elderly civilians who will be collecting social security benefits by then. The news reporter explained that the taxes are going to be raised ridiculously high in an effort to remedy this same imbalance and that the national debt will become a nightmare. I would have to say that if a great portion of those people from the younger generations is homeless on the streets of major cities throughout our country, the situation will only end up being more desperate than it would have been if our country had done something to prevent those young people from falling into the vicious vortex of poverty. Legally prohibiting parents from disinheriting their children would take our nation in the right direction in that respect.

The baby boomer generation has already moved mostly into the retirement-age bracket. Luckily, the baby boomer generation is one of the most educated generations out of all of the generations here in the United States of America, and most baby boomers over 65 years of age have had careers through which they were able to get exceptional private retirement plans. Therefore, most baby boomers do not depend on social security benefits as their retirement income. On the other hand, the picture is not quite the same with Generation X, otherwise known as the baby busters.

Once when I was watching a recent edition of the HBO series Real Time With Bill Maher, Bill Maher mentioned that there was a high suicide rate among Caucasian males between 45 and 54 years of age here in our nation. He also added that, unlike men older than them, these men usually did not have good-paying jobs inasmuch as the majority of them never graduated from college. I believe that the reason for this problem is because child abuse was not taken seriously back in the 1970s when these men were still kids. That is, it was not until the 1980s after John Walsh had co-founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that Americans began taking the subject of child abuse seriously, and many of these men struggle with the emotional scars that resulted from being abused as children and can lead to suicide. Therefore, because Generation X is already a smaller generation than the baby boomer generation and there will be fewer living Gen-X’ers moving into retirement age in the future, a critical imbalance between taxpayers and social security benefits recipients will not happen immediately. However, if our nation maintains the status quo and our inheritance laws are not reformed to prohibit parents from disinheriting their children, then we will all be eventually in for some extremely bumpy times.

Ben_Kerckx is the author of this photograph.

Ben_Kerckx is the author of this photograph.

D. Conclusion

Our nation continues to have a serious problem with all forms of child abuse. According to former United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, most of these incidents of child abuse occur within the home and most of the perpetrators of these crimes are the child abuse victims’ parents. Other nations have laws that prohibit parents from disinheriting their children. In a country like ours that prides itself on protecting its children, there is no reason why our country cannot have identical laws in that regard in every state.

Louisiana’s forced heirship laws provide an exceptional model of how the laws should be in every state of our country. Of course, any loopholes that that state currently has in those same laws need to be closed up so that no adult survivor of child abuse gets the short end of the stick in that particular state jurisdiction after their abusive parent dies.

We all need to contact our state legislators in one way or another to urge them to fix this problem by passing forced heirship laws in the 49 other states of our nation plus the District of Columbia, which so direly need them. Otherwise, homelessness and poverty are going to continue to get worse throughout our nation, and the number of people on welfare will continue to increase.

Survivors of childhood abuse need us to ensure that their best interests are protected, because their abusive parents won’t do so. Children are our future; and if we do nothing to change the inheritance laws in our country to prohibit parents from disinheriting their children, we will all eventually be confronted with a crisis when someday there are significantly more elderly people who are collecting social security benefits than there are young and middle-aged people who are financially able to pay taxes into this same system.

A Poll For Any American Who Has Or Once Had Parents

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Jason B Truth


Jason B Truth (author) from United States of America on July 21, 2019:

Madeleine Clays? Thank you for your comment. What your comment brings to mind is what Joan Crawford did to her two oldest kids (Christina Crawford and Christopher Crawford). In that case, instead of the father being the bad guy, it was the mother (Joan Crawford) who wronged those two kids. She adopted these two kids and took her anger out on them because of her failing relationships with men. She was violent with them. After these two kids were grown, she eventually kicked them to the curb. She wouldn't even visit her son, Christopher, and help him when he was sick and needed her help. After she remarried, she adopted two additional children (Cathy Crawford and Cindy Crawford). Unlike her two oldest kids, she treated them with kindness and love. She left behind a considerable amount of money and wealth to her two youngest kids in her will, but she left her two oldest kids completely out of her will. Of course, Christina Crawford wrote the book "Mommie Dearest" and published it to expose Joan Crawford for the horrible parent she was to her and her brother. Cathy Crawford and Cindy Crawford were not happy about it; but I say that if they didn't like it, they could have shared their inheritance from their mother with Christina Crawford and Christopher Crawford and perhaps that book would never gotten published in that event. When I saw a special on television about the Menendez Brothers, one of the things that stood out was the fact that Jose Menendez had told his sons that he was cutting them both out of his will after all the years he had mistreated them and abused them. It greatly bewilders me how our nation prides itself about having laws that protect children, but then none of these outspoken child advocates you see on television or read about in the press will lift a finger to change the inheritance laws throughout our nation. America needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

Madeleine Clays on July 21, 2019:

You bring up some very good points in this article. When a father remarries, his biological children from his previous marriage(s) are almost always forgotten and left behind financially. Not only does the father often not provide child support for them while he's alive, but he leaves them nothing after his death. In many cases, this father has become wealthy or is at least doing very well financially by the time he dies.

The current wife of the father will usually inherit everything, and she will make sure her children (from her marriage with her now deceased husband or from a previous relationship) are well taken care of. Meanwhile, those children from the man's previous marriage(s) are treated as castaways, as if they don't even exist. Like you said, those children often suffered abuse at the hands of their father as well.

I agree that it's not worth it for biological children who were left out of their father's will to fight the system. The wife of their dad, who normally gets his estate after he dies, will likely hire the most powerful attorneys and will win the case to ensure they get nothing.

Yes, the disinheritance laws absolutely need to change.

Jason B Truth (author) from United States of America on February 21, 2017:

@Sanxuary. Oh, I'm not mindless to the possibility that there may initially be drawbacks to passing laws that prohibit parents from disinheriting their children in all 50 states. However, I believe that the state legislators could research ways to put safeguards in place so that nobody gets stuck with a humongous debt from their parents after their parents pass away. And, yeah, I get it. Reverse mortgages have never been good for the United States of America. Quite frankly, I feel that reverse mortgages should not even be legal, because they're like making deals with the devil, figuratively speaking. Nevertheless, I find it very disturbing whenever I find out about someone living homeless on the streets while their father or mother is frolicking in a fortune in some mansion in Bel Air or Beverly Hills. Yeah, I understand that some people put themselves in that position. However, there are many people living out on the streets as a result of abuse they suffered at the hands of one or both of their parents when they were kids, and the injustice is that the abusive parent is living in the lap of luxury while the son or daughter is suffering. And usually the abusive parent is a sociopath who will tell people that their kid put themselves in a desperate situation, when in reality, the abusive parent is completely to blame for putting their kid in that predicament. Call me a die-hard liberal if you must, but I just don't believe that maintaining the status quo regarding the current inheritance laws in the 49 states without forced heirship laws is going to take our nation to greener pastures. Louisiana leads the way to molding better inheritance laws for our country. In any event, although we may not see eye to eye on this issue, I do thank you for your input.

Sanxuary on February 21, 2017:

The inheritance laws are horrible but parents have to actually legally file to exclude their children. If they die their own children are responsible for burying them. If they have no money you could actually be left with the bill. Still any parent willing to exclude their children should have every right to do so. If you want something really interesting you should meet the children who's parents left everything to the church and got stuck with the burial. If you are really smart you get rid of everything before you die and leave the tax man nothing. Wait until all these reverse mortgages kick in and see what your parents leave you then. These mortgages are going to be the next big scam.

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