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

Answers:

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.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.