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Home > Blog > Probate > Disinheriting Family: Can It Be Done?

Disinheriting Family: Can It Be Done?


If you are married, and you are creating an estate plan, you may want to disinherit your spouse. Before you say this sounds cruel or morally wrong, there are a lot of very valid reasons when people may want to disinherit spouses.

In some cases, spouses are still legally married, but have not actually lived or acted as a married couple for many years. They may both accept that they are only married in name only, and thus, may want to disinherit each other.

A spouse may have children of a former marriage that he or she wants to take care of. The spouse may want children of that former marriage to inherit a larger share, than his or her current wife.

It also is sometimes the case that a spouse has his or her own assets and will be fine; the other spouse may simply not have the need for what you are leaving in your will or estate, that other people do.

Some people find that for tax reasons, it benefits the estate to give more money or assets to a charity—money or assets that should, legally, go to a spouse.

How to Disinherit a Spouse

If you specifically say you want to disinherit a spouse, the law will still ensure that your spouse gets 20% of your estate. The only way to entirely exclude a spouse from inheriting, is by using a post or prenuptial agreement.

Be aware that there are a number of legal requirements to signing a valid pre or postnuptial. It is very possible the disinherited spouse will challenge your will or estate in probate court, so you want to make sure that your pre or postnuptial agreement is drafted legally.

Disinheriting Children (Minors and Adults)

You can never disinherit minor children; the law requires that parents take care of their kids, and part of the way it does this, is forbidding disinheriting minor children. You also cannot forbid a child from receiving homestead property, unless you are leaving the homestead to a spouse.

It is easier to disinherit adult children. However, if you created the will or trust or other document that disinherits the adult child before the child was born, the disinheritance will be invalid. You would have to update or amend your estate documents to disinherit the children, after they are born.

Consider Alternatives

Many people want to disinherit children because they don’t trust them to responsibly use the money or assets being left to them. But remember that you can establish a trust, that limits how and when the money or property is used, as an alternative to disinheritance.

You can also use vehicles like life insurance, life estates, or other methods, that are not included as part of your estate, to accomplish your disinheritance goals.

Avoid probate court, and possible fighting by family. Ask us for help with your will or estate plan, or with any problems in probate court. Call the West Palm Beach probate lawyers at The Law Offices of Larry E. Bray today for help.




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