J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

Be careful when disinheriting someone from an estate

A moral and ethical dilemma presents itself to a person who wishes to disinherit a child, spouse or parents. Estate and assets are issues that can haunt the person forever. These matters should be handled during one's lifetime according to laws regarding wills prevalent in Florida.

Denying any child a share of the inheritance could be perceived as being cruel. However, there can be a variety of sound reasons for doing so, like a child's already strong financial standing. Careful words should be used in that situation. One elderly woman who disinherited her well-off daughter noted that it was to provide for her other children who were not doing as well.

Although disinheriting can definitely hurt, there could be pragmatic reasons for doing so. However, there are guidelines. For instance, a surviving spouse's residential property cannot be eliminated in favor of a child or other member of the family. Similarly, minor children are also protected. Yet the act of disinheritance could lead to loved ones contesting a will. Contesting a will happens often across the U.S. and is not limited to those with large estates.

If an adult child dies and the parents stand to inherit, they will get the estate if the adult child doesn't designate in writing that he or she doesn't wish for the parents to inherit. Other close relatives also could be specifically denied an inheritance if the person has no spouse, child or parent; and wishes to disinherit them. However, a good strategy would be to give small amounts to parents, children, spouses and relatives.

For these and many other reasons, the advice of a legal professional may prove beneficial when drafting a will. A legal professional should be informed about any change in the person's wishes, status of family members or death so that the necessary amendments can be made.

Source: Reuters, "Disinheriting someone is not easy," Geoff Williams, Jan. 31, 2013

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