Probate Law

Can You Entirely Disinherit Someone? Not Always

Family dynamics are always complicated.  It is safe to say that since the beginning of time there have been conflicts, sides taken, and bad blood when it comes to family relations.  Indeed, family conflict is the subject of most, if not all, of the movies and TV shows we consume all the time.  

Family Squabbles Are All Around Us

We would posit that is difficult to count the number of times the proverbial mother-in-law complicates protagonists’ best-laid plans, or when the stereotypical “crazy uncle” disrupts the holiday family dinner.  The most classic of romances – Romeo and Juliet – stems from an age-old dispute between two families that are sworn enemies.  And how could we forget Shakespeare’s other commentary on whether children deserve the assets of the patriarch in King Lear.  

Indeed, King Lear actually serves as a great jumping-off point for today’s topic.  The title character, King Lear, actually splits his kingdom three ways – one for each of his three daughters – to avoid future strife after his death.  Complications, of course, ensue when Lear asks for a show of love to justify each daughter’s portion of the kingdom.    

That circumstance folds right into the subject of this article – whether under Florida law it is possible for someone to disinherit family members in a will.  You will learn that it is sometimes, but not always possible to disinherit a family member.

Whether it is borne out of a conscious decision or because of an honest mistake, in most cases it is possible to entirely disinherit a family member.  That being said, there are some circumstances under Florida law that provide for certain surviving family members of a decedent to obtain a portion of the probate estate, even when the decedent attempted in a will to disinherit the individual.  This article will delve into those specifics.   

If you have detailed questions about the drafting of your will or the probate process after reading this blog, we invite you to contact us at Doane & Doane.  We focus on Palm Beach County probate cases as one of our areas of specialization and we can help you take care of your Palm Beach County probate matter. Call us today at 561-656-0200.

Is it Possible to Disinherit Someone?

Under Florida law, a Florida resident generally has the right to entirely disinherit anyone.  It normally is not necessary to even give a disinherited beneficiary a nominal gift, like $1, which might be the case in other jurisdictions.  

That said, there are two types of surviving family members who can avoid being disinherited entirely under certain fact-specific circumstances.  Specifically, a surviving spouse and surviving children may be able to receive assets in probate – even if the decedent’s will gives them nothing.

A Surviving Spouse’s and Children’s Rights In Probate Assets

With regard to a surviving spouse, he or she may have rights to the deceased person’s homestead real property.  In addition, a surviving spouse may also bring a claim for an elective share of the decedent’s estate, which is generally 30 percent of all of the deceased’s assets.  That 30 percent may include non-probate assets as well.  

Both the decedent’s surviving spouse and children could also have a right to a family allowance to provide them with funds until the estate’s assets are ultimately distributed.  

Finally, a surviving spouse and a decedent’s surviving children could claim rights to exempt property that is paid to beneficiaries rather than creditors in satisfaction of those creditors’ claims against the probate estate.  

A spouse, however, may waive rights to his or her elective share, family allowance, or exempt property through a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement.  

What About Children Born After a Will is Drafted?

One may assume that children not named in a will might be disinherited if the deceased failed to update his or her will after the child was born.   Or, similarly, one might think that a new spouse, married to decedent after a will was written, may not have a claim to probate assets. That is, however, not so.  

An omitted family member because he or she was born after the decedent drafted a will, or got married to decedent with the will remaining unchanged, may still be entitled to a share of the decedent’s assets in probate.  

To learn about how to be eligible for inheritance in those circumstances, be sure to contact an experienced probate attorney, like the attorneys at Doane & Doane.  

Doane & Doane Has the Resources and Experience to Help You Understand Your Rights in Probate

Whether it is assistance to administer an estate or assist an appointed personal representative, you should engage the help of the Palm Beach County probate attorneys at Doane & Doane.  

Florida fiduciaries seek the assistance of the attorneys of Doane & Doane, P.A. to administer and manage their trusts and estates frequently.  The founding partners of Doane & Doane are board-certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys.  With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trust and estates.

Overseeing an estate can be a time-consuming and complicated process. We help clients every step of the way. Our probate administrative services include:

1. Proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid
Identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
3. Property appraisal
4. Supervising and arranging the estate’s debts and taxes
Distributing property as directed by a will
Transferring title and ownership of assets to the proper beneficiaries

In addition, the personal representative, executor, or executrix must follow Florida law to conclude the decedent’s affairs, including:

1.Giving the proper notices to proper parties
Collecting the decedent’s property
Receiving claims against the estate
Paying valid claims and disputing others
Distributing estate property according to the will or state law
Selling estate property to cover debts or allow for proper distribution, if necessary

Let us at Doane & Doane help serve as a personal representative.  Contact a Doane & Doane professional today by calling 561-656-0200.