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Do I have to leave my child an inheritance in my will?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2022 | Estate Planning

Not all parents want to leave their children an inheritance. Sometimes there is bad blood between parents and children. Other times parents may feel their child does not need an inheritance, or they may leave money to their child in other ways, such as through gifts or life insurance.

Still, if you want to disinherit your child, there are some things you should know.

Can I disinherit my child?

You can disinherit your adult child if you have a will. Nothing in Florida law requires parents to name their adult child as heirs in their will. An adult child is not entitled to inherit anything under your will.

If you die never having created a will, however, your adult child will inherit part of your estate per Florida state intestacy laws. These laws dictate who inherits your assets if you die without a will. If you die without a will, your adult child will automatically receive an inheritance, even if you would rather your adult child receive nothing.

There is an exception for minor children under age 18. Florida law states that, because parents have a duty to financially provide for their minor child’s needs, you cannot disinherit your minor child in your will.

A disinherited child’s rights

Just because you left your child out of your will does not mean the story is over after you die. Your child can challenge your will upon your death to try to have it invalidated and state intestacy laws followed instead.

There are several grounds upon which your disinherited child can contest your will. Your child can claim:

  • There were the wrong number of witnesses or other legal errors in the execution of the will
  • You were unduly influenced by someone into disinheriting your child
  • You were forced to disinherit your child
  • You were mentally incapacitated and did not know what you were doing when you disinherited your child
  • A previous will exists that contradicts the later will or was not properly destroyed

You may feel you have a good reason to leave your child out of your will when you are doing your estate planning. Still, remember that your child can challenge your will upon your death.

Sometimes it can help to explain to your child why they will not receive an inheritance. Knowing your reasoning can help avoid unwelcome surprises.