Can I disinherit my spouse and/or my child(ren)?
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
You can’t disinherit your spouse completely, unless you and your spouse have waived the right to be included in the other’s estate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement (agreements made before or after the marriage). Each state has laws that shield a surviving spouse from being completely cut off.
In most states, the surviving spouse can choose between the property left in the deceased spouse’s Will or a statutory share set by state law (usually one-third or one-half of the estate). Whether it is advantageous to elect the share specified in state law—generous in some states, minor in others—depends on the rules for calculating this share. There is a remarkable amount of variation in these rules among the states.
In a community property state, the surviving spouse already owns half of the community property at the death of the other spouse.
Generally you can disinherit an adult child or children. To do so, it is necessary to specifically say in the Will that the omission is intentional. Often Wills have language along these lines: “I have previously taken care of my daughter Susan during my lifetime, and have chosen to leave nothing to her in this Will.” Similarly, “I am leaving nothing to my son John, for reasons known to both of us.”
If a child is a minor, states provide an allowance to support the child until he or she reaches the age of majority, typically age 18.