Parents sometimes come to us and ask if they can leave nothing to their son or daughter in their will or trust (“disinherit” him or her). The reasons for this question vary widely; it may be due to a long estrangement or a recent dispute. We have also seen strong distrust of the child’s spouse as a cause.
Whatever the story behind the desire to disinherit, a parent can legally disinherit his or her child in Florida, with a few exceptions. First, parents have a legal duty to support their minor children, so you can only disinherit your children who are over the age of 18. Second, you cannot disregard an agreement, contract, or court order (usually the result of a divorce and/or child support proceeding) stating that you will provide for your child after your death.
So how do you disinherit your child under Florida law? The most important step is to consult an estate planning attorney and have them draft a will or trust for you. A valid estate plan is the only way to have your desire that your child receive nothing recognized by the legal system. If you die without a valid plan, your assets will pass under Florida’s default estate plan. This “plan” treats all of your children equally and gives them high priority; they are next in line after your spouse (or first if you die widowed or unmarried).
An estate planning attorney can also counsel you on the practicalities of disinheritance. Should you leave your child a small amount? The nominal $1.00? Nothing at all? Is there any way to prohibit or discourage the child from challenging your will or trust after you are gone? Our attorneys can answer these questions for you and guide you through the process of disinheriting a child. We are here to help.