Unfortunately, it is not rare to find parents with strained relationships with adult children. In many cases, parents have to distance themselves from a child due to abusive behavior, or drug addiction.
Such an unfortunate scenario may lead some parents to disinherit a problematic child. In this article, you will discover how can it be done in Florida.
Inheritance Through Will vs. Intestate Estate – The Fundamentals
Under Florida law, the term “inheritance” refers to the distribution of a deceased person’s estate based on the provisions of a valid will with enforceable terms.
Parents seeking to disinherit an adult child must necessarily insert a disinheritance clause in their wills. Otherwise, the child is automatically entitled to a portion of the parent’s estate upon death.
It is crucial to understand that no state law expressly provides that a parent must appoint an adult child to inherit through a will. The individuals or entities appointed as heirs in a will depend exclusively on the testator’s personal wishes.
When a Florida resident dies without a will, the decedent’s estate is deemed intestate. Florida Statutes §§732.102 specify that the intestate share of the decedent’s adult children is:
- “If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent who are not lineal descendants of the surviving spouse, one-half of the intestate estate
- If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent, all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse, and the surviving spouse has one or more descendants who are not descendants of the decedent, one-half of the intestate estate”
To prevent this inconvenient outcome, Florida residents must consult with an estate planning advisor to draft a proper will. Ultimately, as long as the child you want to disinherit is older than 18 years, it depends exclusively on you to determine whether to leave him or her out of a will in Florida.
Can a Disinherited Child Sue the Estate of a Deceased Parent?
Many people think that it is not possible to disinherit an adult child without leaving room for potential lawsuits against the estate. While this affirmation is not true, disinheriting a child requires attention to detail.
It is fundamental to ensure the language used in the will expressly state the testator’s wishes to disinherit the child. Specifically, the language used in the document must disinherit the child’s existence and clarify that the testator is intentionally leaving that person out of the will.
This way, a disgruntled child left out of a will cannot file a lawsuit against the estate for an alleged omission or error in the document. Another common mistake incurred by parents seeking to disinherit a child is leaving only $1 to him or her.
This is one of the worst mistakes someone can make in estate planning, especially when there is an estranged child involved in the process. In Florida, any person with an interest in a decedent’s estate can contest a will or file a lawsuit against the estate during probate.
No matter how insignificant the interest might be, that person has the right to object to the terms of the will, which will result in delays and create impediments for other beneficiaries to get their distributions timely.
The best strategy is to work with an expert estate planning attorney to assess your situation and tailor the necessary documents to legally disinherit an adult child while preventing possible “side effects.”