In our prior post, we talked about inheritance involving family members -- or more so disinheritance and the case of a contested will that can follow. The prior post focused on laws that vary from state to state but provide some kind of protection for spouses and minor children. However, these are certainly not the only family members that exist.
In some cases an adult child or parent is left out of a parent's will. Leaving someone out of a will seems like a punishment. In some cases it certainly is because the testator feels ill-will towards that person, but it isn't always true. Some parents leave a child they don't know very well out of the will. In other cases it may be because one child doesn't need the money when other children do.
In terms of adult disinheritance other than a spouse, there are not laws that protect them in the same way. However, there is risk involved in disinheritance and how it is worded. Take the example of a child who doesn't need the money. This is based off of current circumstances. What if that individual has a medical issue in the future? Loses their job? A parent may be leaving them out of something they might actually end of needed.
In other cases, people literally leave someone out of the will. They fail to mention the person's name at all. This can cause more confusion than anything else in some cases. There are strict rules for letting evidence in to "explain the intent" of the testator, and a court will try to determine what that intent was. Did they purposely leave the name out or was it an accident?
Making the decision to leave a family member out of a will should be done with caution and careful planning. It is best to discuss the situation and possible consequences with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Source: CNBC, "How to Disinherit Loved Ones - And Which You Can't," Feb. 1, 2013
Our Florida law firm helps individuals and families create estate plans that work for them and are diversified to fit their needs so that their intent is carried out in probate court.