Can you disinherit your child?

My grandfather was diagnosed with dementia 2 years ago. He recently passed, and to our surprise, a new Will had been made after his diagnosis. It leaves everything to his son and no mention of his daughter, my mother. Is this Will valid considering the dementia? Should or can my mother contest this?

Asked on June 11, 2014 under Estate Planning, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, you can disinherit one, or indeed, all, of your children; the law does not require someone to leave anything to adult chldren.

2) It may be possible to contest the will on one or both of the following grounds:

a) lack of capacity--if your grandfather was, at the time he created the will, not mentally competent to execute a will; or

b) undue influence--if you think (and think you can prove) that his son used some position of influence (e.g. was the son living closer to your grandfather and spending much more time with him than your mother was? taking care of him physically, or managing his finances or affairs?) to get your grandfather to execute a will which he otherwise, in the absence of that undue (or unfair)  influence, would not have executed.

Your mother should speak with a trust and estates attorney about the situation, about whether she can, under the facts of this case, bring a credible challenge, the likelihood of success, and also the cost to challenge the will; she can then make an informed decision as to what to do.

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