Naming Grandchildren

Nolo’s Online Will asks you to name all of your grandchildren. Here is some information about why it’s important to name your children’s children in your will.

Unnamed Grandchildren Might Claim a Share

It is important to list all your living grandchildren born or adopted into the family because grandchildren sometimes have a special legal status that may indirectly affect your will-making plans.

For example, in many states, if you do not name a child in a will, that child can automatically receive a share of the estate. This same rule usually also applies to grandchildren whose parent has died before the person making the will. In other words, an unnamed grandchild whose parent has died may be able to claim a share of the will maker’s estate, even if that was not the will maker’s intention.

For this reason, when you’re making your will, name all of your grandchildren whether or not you plan to leave them any property. You are free to leave each grandchild as much property as you wish -- or none at all.

In the next step of the Nolo’s Online Will interview, you will agree that if you don’t leave a grandchild any property, your decision is to do so is intentional, and your will document will contain a similar statement. This language will prevents a court from awarding any grandchild a share of your estate that you did not intend him or her to get.

If You Add or Lose a Grandchild

If you gain a grandchild, update your will to name the new grandchild. Likewise, update your will if you have named a grandchild as a major beneficiary, but that grandchild dies before you do.

As inconvenient as it may seem, the law demands specificity and recognizes only living people as eligible to take property under a will.

Consider, for example, that you made a will that stated: "I give the money in Account #1940 at Scott Bank to all my grandchildren, to be shared equally." When you made the will, you had only two grandchildren: Grace and Sari. But by the time you died, there were two more grandchildren in your brood: Jackson and Penny. Jackson and Penny would be excluded from taking a share in the bank account. The law assumes that because they did not exist when you made your will, you could not logically have intended to leave them property.

Naming a Property Manager for Young Grandchildren

A little later in this program, you will have the opportunity to name someone to manage property you leave to a grandchild who is a minor at the time of your death.