2 Reasons to Disinherit a Family Member

Family members can engage in disagreements that last for years. Some families consist of people existing at very different levels of success. Both of these factors are often taken into consideration during estate planning. They’re only two of the reasons someone might want to disinherit a family member.

Sometimes, as heart breaking as it can be, parents feel they must disinherit a child.

It could be that the children have engaged in behavior the parents cannot condone. Sometimes parents may reject a child’s fiancé or spouse or feel their child’s inheritance will be squandered by irresponsible spending.

Parents are only barred from disinheriting their children under special circumstances. For example, a divorce court order may require them to include their children in their estate.

And sometimes the disinheritance occurs for a positive reason.

One child may be looking ahead to a healthy financial future. Another is living paycheck to paycheck.

Parents may look objectively at their children’s prospects and realize that one child needs more assistance. In this situation, parents may decide to leave a greater inheritance to one child over another.

There are right ways and wrong ways to disinherit someone.

For example, under Florida law, spouses cannot be completely disinherited, absent a pre- or post-nuptial agreement or similar waiver. Surviving spouses are still entitled to receive a portion of their spouse’s estate under most conditions. The amount the surviving spouse receives may include a life interest in real estate, family allowance paid from the estate, and an elective share that sets the minimum floor for a spouse’s inheritance at 30%.

Make sure your Will contains a reference to the person you wish to disinherit. Otherwise, that person could claim you just forgot to name them as an heir.

Leaving a nominal amount to a disinherited child may be more trouble than it’s worth, especially if your estate has to go through probate. So, if you want to leave a small amount to an estranged child, consider naming them beneficiary of a small financial account.

And, remember that if you die without a Will (intestate), your estate will be distributed according to Florida laws of succession. This means the person you want to disinherit, especially a child or grandchild, may receive part of your estate.

If you have to do it, do it right.

When disinheritance is on the horizon, make sure you’re headed in the right direction. By consulting with an estate planning attorney, you may learn of other effective options.

At Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we’ve helped many clients develop their estate plans. We can set up an appointment for you if you just call 772-324-9050 or use our convenient Contact Form.

Located in Palm City, the Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A. also serves clients in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.

Written by John Mangan, Esq.

John Mangan, Esq.

I’m an attorney in Palm City, FL, and I serve clients throughout Martin County, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, and Indiantown, as well as those in St. Lucie County, the Treasure Coast, Palm Beach County, and other parts of Florida. The Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., is an innovative firm providing estate planning services to clients in Florida. We focus primarily on wills, trusts, asset protection, guardianship, and probate administration.