My parents have said they will disinherit me because I am gay. I thought LGBTQ laws protect me from discrimination – including by my parents – and its illegal to disinherit a gay child?
There has been much progress in the rights and protections of LGBTQ individuals. Unfortunately, there are also limits to the federal and state antidiscrimination laws. Current laws may protect employment, public accommodations and similar discrimination for sexual orientation, but they don’t protect all types of sexual orientation discriminatory behaviors. Parents are free to decide who they want to leave their assets and property to, even if they choose to disinherit a child for discriminatory reasons.
Parents and grandparents are free to choose to disinherit their child for religious, sexual, lifestyle, financial and other reasons: the laws do not require someone to leave their estate to their family members, and children are not entitled to inherit their parents’ assets. People can leave their assets to whomever they choose except in very limited circumstances such as coercion or abuse.
In Illinois, a parent can choose to inherit a child because they do not agree with the child’s life decisions. However, if you choose to disinherit a child in your will, you need to be very explicit in who and why you are disinheriting a child, and not leave your wishes up to the interpretation of the courts. For example, a will that states, I want to disinherit my son if he does not marry a woman. What would happen if he chooses never to marry – is he still disinherited?
To be enforceable, the will must be compatible with other legal documents, such as a trust or the beneficiary on a retirement account for example, or it can be legally challenged.
If you die without a will, your estate is distributed under Illinois intestate laws, which presume that parents intend to provide for their children after their death.
Do you have questions about your beneficiaries and estate laws in Illinois? Our experienced estate and probate attorneys in Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties in Illinois can advise you on the best options to protect your assets and loved ones. To talk to a trust attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.