Do I have to leave my children anything in my Will?

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Do I have to leave my children anything in my Will?

I have stepchildren that have taken care of me for years and I am getting to the end as I have cancer. Now my adult children, whom I have had nothing to do with for years, think that they are legally entitled to my property. Stepchild is the executor of my estate and in charge of my funeral plans.

Asked on January 4, 2012 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have to leave your children from your estate. The fact is that children do not have automatic inheritance rights under a Will. In other words, it is perfectly within the law to disinherit your children. However, that having been said, some states do require some form of "disinheritance" language within the Will itself. This is to ensure and guard against a child being accidentally left out. Therefore, some Wills include language to the effect that the deceased leave $1.00 to a named child or children. Then no claim can later be made by a child that they were mistakenly excluded from the Will. 

You should consult with a probate law attorney as to how to go about this in your state. They can help you draft a document that truly (and legally) expresses just how you wish your estate to be distributed after your death.


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