Florida Law on Disinheriting an Heir

Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Broward, Okeechobee, and Martin County

It is not unusual for people to consult with us who have a frayed relationship with an adult child… or no relationship at all. Sometimes the child has rejected the parents. Sometimes parents have had to distance themselves from an irresponsible, abusive or drug-addicted child. Parents in this unfortunate situation may decide it is best to exclude the child from their estate plan, even as they hope for future reconciliation.

If you are facing this dilemma, our estate planning lawyers will listen carefully to your concerns. We will advise you on your various legal options. We can create a plan that is flexible enough to be changed if, hopefully, your relationship with your child improves in the future.

Florida Estate Planning Law Regarding Adult Children

Under Florida law, you have no legal obligation to leave anything to your adult child. (This assumes you are not contractually obligated to do so; for example, per a child support order or a property settlement in a divorce). But if you die intestate (without a valid estate plan) and you do not have a spouse, Florida law will require your assets to be divided among all your “lineal descendants.” Therefore, if you intend to disinherit an adult child, you need a plan.Florida Trust Administration Attorney

How To Reduce the Chance of Lawsuits

A child who is disinherited may wish to challenge your estate. That is why it is important for your plan to acknowledge “the natural fruits of your bounty.” In other words, your plan should reference your disinherited child’s existence, and note that you have intentionally not provided for him, so he cannot reasonably argue he was omitted from your plan in error. If you wish to exclude that child’s children from your plan, that too can be done.

Do Not Leave Anything To The Child – Not Even $1

There is a myth that says you should leave just $1 to an estranged child. That is bad advice! Beneficiaries have certain automatic legal rights in the estate administration process. A bequest of even $1 will give a disgruntled child the opportunity to insert himself into the process, create roadblocks, cause delays, and prevent your other beneficiaries from receiving their distributions promptly.

An Alternative Method To Leave Money To Your Adult Child

If after our discussions you decide that you wish to leave something to your estranged child, one possible solution is to make him/her the death beneficiary of a specific account. This allows you to provide for the child, but prevents him from interfering in the administration of your estate and inconveniencing your other beneficiaries.

Our attorneys can help you resolve these sensitive issues. Call 561-625-1100 or email us to schedule an appointment.

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