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What Happens If You Disinherit an Adult Child in Florida?


Not every parent and child get along. Especially as children grow up and move away, a rift can form with their parents that lasts a lifetime. There are also situations where a parent still has a relationship with their adult child but does not want them to inherit from their estate. So what happens if you actually disinherit an adult child? Could the child try to contest your will?

No Right to Inherit

The simple answer is that no, an adult child has no legal right to inherit anything from a parent’s estate as long as that parent has a will to that effect. Absent a will, Florida’s intestacy laws do provide that the deceased person’s children will inherit from any probate estate. The law does not account for the actual state of the relationship between the parent and child.

But if you make a will, or simply place all of your assets in a revocable trust, then you are free to leave your adult children little or nothing at all. There are a few exceptions. Notably, if you are divorced there may be a court order in effect requiring you to make certain financial provisions for your children, even if they are now adults.

Sometimes you hear of cases where a parent leaves only a token bequest–such as one dollar–to a child as a means of disinheritance. The potential complication with this strategy is that any gift, no matter how small, still makes that child an interested person in the underlying probate estate. This means the Personal Representative must still notify the child of any proceedings affecting the estate. And the estate must still actually pay the one dollar to the child and obtain a receipt.

Keep in mind, an adult child has no legal grounds to challenge or contest a will simply because the parent left them nothing. Florida law only permits will contests on very narrow grounds, such as proof the testator was not of sound mind or acted under the undue influence of another. A child’s contest based merely on the fact they were estranged from the parent will be unsuccessful.

At the same time, a parent cannot prevent a child from bringing a legitimate challenge to their will by inserting a “no-contest” clause. Many states allow such provisions in wills, which basically disinherits anyone who initiates a legal proceeding to challenge the validity of the will. Florida is the only state which flat-out bars enforcement of such provisions. This also applies to any no-contest clauses in a Florida trust.

Contact a Pompano Beach Estate and Trust Litigation Lawyer Today

If you are involved in the administration of a probate estate and a potential legal dispute arises, it is best to seek out qualified legal advice from a Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation attorney. Attorney Mark R. Manceri has been handling trust, estate, and guardianship matters in Florida for over 25 years. Call his office today at 954-491-7099 to schedule a consultation.

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