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Can I Take a Child out of my Will?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2023 | Estate Planning

If you are a Florida parent of a troubled child or have a bad relationship with your child, you may wonder if you can take that child out of your will. Whatever your reason, you should know the legal implications of disinheriting a child in Florida and how to do it properly.

Disinheriting an Adult Child

Under Florida law, you have no legal obligation to leave anything to your adult child, unless there is a court order in a divorce or child support case that requires you to do so. But, by law, your children have a right to your estate unless you legally disinherit an adult child. To do so, you need to have a clear and comprehensive estate plan that expresses this intention.

Silence may not be Enough

One way to disinherit an adult child is to simply omit them from your will or trust, but this may not be enough to prevent them from challenging your estate plan in court. They can argue that you forgot about them or were unduly influenced by someone else.

Nominal Amounts may not be Enough

Another way to disinherit an adult child is to leave them a nominal amount of money, such as $1, but this too is not recommended. Your child may challenge the estate plan in probate court and argue that this was a typo, error or that there was undue influence by another person.

Be Explicit About Your Intention

To avoid these possibilities, it is advisable to acknowledge the existence of your child in your will or trust, and then, explicitly state that you are disinheriting them for reasons known to you. This way, the probate judge can explicitly see that you made a conscious and deliberate decision to exclude that child.

Disinheriting From a Will does not Have to Mean Nothing

And, keep in mind, disinheriting a child does not mean that you are cutting them off entirely. Another option is to make them the beneficiary of a specific account that does not pass through probate. This can include a life insurance policy or a retirement account. This will also eliminate many arguments they could make in probate.

What About a Minor Child?

While you can disinherit an adult child in Florida, you cannot completely disinherit a minor child. Under homestead laws, you cannot leave your homestead property to anyone other than your spouse or minor child, unless they consent to it in writing. If you try to do so, the property will pass to your spouse for life, and then, to your minor child.