A parent’s decision to disinherit an adult child usually results in shock when the will is deemed valid in court. Depending on the circumstances, a disinherited child might be able to challenge the will. Read on to discover whether a parent can leave a child out of a will in Florida.
Inheriting Through a Will in Florida – The Fundamentals
Under Florida law, a child is entitled to a portion of a parent’s estate if the deceased’s will does not have a disinheritance clause. If the parent died intestate (with no will), the child is entitled to a portion of the decedent’s estate by law.
Florida Statutes §732.102 expressly states that the intestate share of a decedent’s adult children is:
- “If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent who are not lineal descendants of the surviving spouse, one-half of the intestate estate
- If there are one or more surviving descendants of the decedent, all of whom are also descendants of the surviving spouse, and the surviving spouse has one or more descendants who are not descendants of the decedent, one-half of the intestate estate”
Please note that Florida law has no specific provision requiring a parent to appoint an adult child in a will. Unless the parent voluntarily uses express language to appoint a child as an heir, an adult child is not entitled to inherit through the will.
Can a Parent Leave a Child Out of a Will in Florida? – The Verdict
The ability to leave a son or daughter out of a will in Florida depends on whether the child is an adult or a minor. As long as the child is older than 18 years, the parent can leave him or her out of the will.
Florida law expressly states that parents of minor children have the legal duty to provide for them. Hence, state law prohibits parents to disinherit children under the age of 18.
Property protected under the state homestead act also shields the rights of minor children. No one except the homestead’s owner surviving spouse or minor children can inherit the property upon death.
Another law that protects minor children’s inheritance rights in Florida is the family allowance.
As provided by Florida Statutes §732.403, “in addition to protected homestead and statutory entitlements, if the decedent was domiciled in Florida at the time of death, the surviving spouse and the decedent’s lineal heirs the decedent was supporting or was obligated to support are entitled to a reasonable allowance in money out of the estate for their maintenance during administration.”
Can a Disinherited Child Challenge a Will in Florida?
Even though Florida law permits a parent to leave an adult child out of a will, a disinherited child has the right to contest the document’s validity in court.
Will contests can delay the probate process, as the estate administration cannot continue until the court determines the contesting party’s rights. In such cases, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the disinheritance should be reversed based on feasible facts and solid legal grounds.