All too often a client comes in with a sad tale about an estranged child. Naturally, they are at a loss as to what to do about the situation when it comes to leaving that child an inheritance.
Years ago, the famous advice columnist Ann Landers wrote that her all time most requested column for reprint was on this very subject. Ann wrote that an inheritance should be considered a gift and that if the gift is not deserved one should not be expected. While that may have been good advice at the time and perhaps still is in most cases, like many things it is more complicated today.
In practice, we find that many of these once loving sons and daughters have married individuals with borderline or narcissistic personality disorders. Their spouses are manipulative and controlling. They seek to separate the loving son or daughter from their family so as to better control their spouse. The estranged child knows from experience that going against the wishes of their narcissistic spouse is like throwing gasoline on a fire — so they go along to get along.