Do I have to include a child in my Will? If I don't, can he/she contest my Will? 42 Answers as of March 13, 2013

I'm working on my last will and testament and was wondering if I have to leave a child anything. If I don't, does that give him/her rights to contest my will?

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O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
In Maryland, one is not required to include a child in one's will. A child may be able to contest a will whether or not the child is included in the will. Some folks who want to "disinherit" their children, yet show the children were not forgotten, will leave their children a nominal bequest such as $10.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 3/13/2013
Massie Law, PLLC | Sammi Massie
If you choose to leave your child nothing you can do so by stating that in your will directly. Just like beneficiaries, disinheriting anyone should be listed in your will.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 2/25/2013
Dennis E. Valentine Law Firm
Dennis E. Valentine Law Firm | Dennis Valentine
Under Colorado law, you do not have to include any of your children. The only person that has a right to take part of your estate is your surviving spouse. Most lawyer drafted wills name your children in listing your family to make it obvious that you did not forget one or more children. After naming your children, you then name your beneficiaries without saying anything more about your children. The failure to name your children as your beneficiaries does not give them a right to contest your will.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 2/24/2013
Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
Any heir can contest a will. No, you do not have to include a child in your will. You are cautioned as to proper language must be included if you are adamant about leaving a child out.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/24/2013
DOUGLAS A. TULL, P.C.
DOUGLAS A. TULL, P.C. | Douglas A. Tull
It is best to have an attorney help you draft your will - so you can make as sure as possible, that omitting a child as a beneficiary from your will, won't result in a challenge. There are ways to include language in a will to show that you are purposely not providing for a child - you can even include a no-contest clause - but if a child wanted to challenge a will and has the money to do so, they can always try - doesn't mean they'll be successful - you need to leave proof as to your intent for the child not to benefit - statement to that effect and possibly the reason why. There is no "right" to inherit money from a parent.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/24/2013
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    You do not have to leave something to a child. Say who your children are, and do not omit the one you are disinheriting. Say you have a child, A, and intentionally leave that child nothing. If you just leave the child out, it will give him or her an argument that you forgot him or her. If you anticipate a will contest, be very careful about the signing and witnessing of your will. If it is really important to you that this work, get advice from an estate planning lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
    You do not need to leave a child anything in your will. Your best way to handle this is in the will state. "To my son Michael I leave nothing." Do not say why. However, by disinheriting a child, they can still contest the matter.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    You can stipulate in your will that you are disinheriting that child and if you wish to put the reason you can. A smart lawyer can also place wording in the will that speaks on what will happen if any person that challenges the will.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    You do not have to leave anything to your child. You do have to mention that he or she exists. For example: "I have three children, A, B and C, I give 55% of my estate to A and 45% of my estate to C." Another, even easier example: Simply include in your will, "I give nothing to B." If you don't mention B, B becomes an omitted heir. The law more-or-less assumes you forgot B and would have left B something had you remembered. B then gets what B would have gotten had you not made a will at all.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    No you do not have to leave a child any part of your estate; but you must be specifically very clear in the wording and mention in the will you are disinheriting that child from receiving any asset of the estate; if they contest the provision excluding the child, then they will be liable tom very heavy estate fees and costs, and will lose.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Law Office of Edward M. Burgh, APC | Edward M. Burgh
    As long as you state in your Will you do not intend to include and you have capacity you should be okay. Why don't you hire an Attorney and be sure?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Mention them in the will, leave them one dollar and your love an affection. If you are wish you will seek counsel in drafting your will.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/21/2013
    Jeffrey W. Wilkinson, P.C.
    Jeffrey W. Wilkinson, P.C. | Jeffrey W Wilkinson
    In the State of Utah you are not required to leave anything to a child. If you decide not to include a child then you must be clear that you intended for he or she to not receive anything. If contested the Court must determine the you knowingly and intentionally failed to make any provision for such a child. It also must be clear that you had your capacity when you did the will and/or trust and that your were not under undue influence (for example one of your other children did not threaten to put you in a retirement home and never visit you again if you did not disinherit their sibling).
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    The only forced heirs now (those entitled by law to a portion of your estate) are those under the age of twenty-four at the time of your death, and children with disabilities. Anyone can contest a will, but few are ever successful.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    You need to include them as a child then you may disinherit them. They cannot and should not be overlooked, but you are not obligated to leave them a penny.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    A person can contest a Will, regardless of what you do or do not do. There are better ways to disinherit someone than by Will. If you are intent on doing this, you should consult with an attorney to set this up as airtight as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    You dont have to leave your child anything, but you should name him in your will to establish that you didnt forget him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    You do not have to leave a child anything but you need to mention that child and state that you have deliberately made no provision for them in the will. Otherwise, that child could claim to be a forgotten heir. You should confer with your estate planning attorney about how best to accomplish your desired goals.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    If the child is an adult, you can choose to leave him/her out of your will but you should state specifically in the will that the child inherits nothing and why you made that decision. If the child is still a minor, you have an obligation to provide something for the care and education of the child until he/she reaches the age of majority.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Shaw Legal Services
    Shaw Legal Services | Anne Shaw
    An heir can always try and contest a will, however, you can disinherit a child under the law. You could have your attorney include an in terrorum clause in your will or trust and an explanation as to why you are disinheriting a child. Your estate will have a better chance at fighting off a will contest if you do some of these things. Always consult with an attorney about your estate planning needs, as the laws are complex and there are some very technical requirements. If not done properly, your Will could be set aside and distribution would be under the State law, and in that case, your child would inherit by operation of State law.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Timiney Law Firm
    Timiney Law Firm | Leigh Anne Timiney
    Your will is entirely your document. You can include who you wish in your will and you can also elect to disinherit, or not include, who you wish as well. A child is not automatically entitled to an inheritance. It depends upon your state, but most states allow you to include a provision in your will that anyone who contests your will is automatically excluded and disinherited. This is a good way to try and prevent a will contest.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Stone|Novasky, LLC
    Stone|Novasky, LLC | Robert Novasky
    There is no legal obligation that you must leave something to any specific individual, including your children. If you do not intend to leave anything to a child, however, it is best to specifically state that in your Will. You don't necessarily have to state the reason(s) you are not leaving anything to that child, but making an affirmative statement that he/she is your child and you are not leaving anything to him/her will make it clear that it was not an oversight on your part. Courts give great deference to Wills and rarely go against the Testator's desires. Thus, if you have specific intentions stated in your Will, any attempt to contest will likely be denied by the courts.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Alston & Bird | Jack Sawyer
    Under Georgia law, it is possible to omit your child as a beneficiary under your Will. Grounds to contest a Will are fairly limited, and not receiving anything is not a sufficient ground. You should explain in your Will why you chose to exclude the child.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Stittleburg Law Office
    Stittleburg Law Office | Bernd Stittleburg
    You can place anything you want into your will. Whether it will be challenged remains to be seen. In order to challenge an will, the challenger would have to prove that you were not in your right mind at the time you wrote the will.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    Theoretically, you dont have to mention the child. However, I believe that it is better practice to state: I choose to leave nothing to my son John. That way he cant argue that you forgot he existed.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    If you choose to leave nothing to a child make sure that you include language making it clear that you did so intentionally. Minnesota has a statute that says that if a child is left out it is presumed that the testator forgot to include that child. That child would then be entitled to a share of the estate.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Kram & Wooster, P.S. | Richard H. Wooster
    If you are going to exclude a child from any share of your estate you must specifically state that such is your intention. If you just fail to mention a child they can claim the omission was an oversight and seek a share under the doctrine known as the "pretermitted heir."
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Thompson Ostler & Olsen dba Franchise Business Law Group | Brooke Ashton
    It is common to mention the child specifically and state that the child is not receiving anything under the will or give the child $1.00 under the will. This leaves very little room for the child to contest the will saying that they were accidentally forgotten.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You should indicate in the will that you are leaving her nothing.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Randy M. Lish, Attorney at Law | Randy M. Lish
    If you do not at least mention the child in the will, the child can challenge the will claiming to be what is called a pretermitted child. I recommend that you get an attorney to help prepare your estate plan in a case like this.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Norman Reitz | Norman Reitz
    Your best practice to ensure your wishes are carried out to disinherit a child is to use an attorney drafted no contest clause in the will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
    Nothing says that you need to include all your children in your Will. It is common, however, to place a statement in the Will specifically saying that this particular child is to receive nothing from the estate. This way, the child cannot make an argument that you forgot to include him or her.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    You can choose to exclude and include whomever you wish in your will. Certainly if you exclude a child, there is a chance they will contest the will. Your best bet is to have a skilled estate planning attorney draft your will for you including an explanation as to why you are excluding that child. Also, have a second attorney do an independent review of the will to further bolster your intent. It will cost a little bit for you to do that now, but in the long run it could save your estate thousands of dollars in attorney fees from trying to defend a will contest after you are gone.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    The Wideman Law Center, P.C. | Susan Wideman Schaible
    You should mention that you have the child, but can specifically choose to exclude them as a beneficiary. They can object but they may not prevail with their argument.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law
    Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law | Martin Barnes
    My advice is to engage an Indiana attorney to draft your will and to oversee the execution of the will. Your child doesnt have a statutory right to take against the will. That is to say, if the language of the will is clear and unambiguous, and if you direct that your child is not to take from your estate, and if the will is properly executed - you minimize the chance of a successful contest. An attorney can assist you in the preparation and execution of your documents.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Scott Polsky
    Scott Polsky | Scott Polsky
    You do not have to include your child as a beneficiary. I strongly recommend that you have an attorney who specializes in drafting wills handle it for you. There are so many mistakes that you can unknowingly make if you try to draft it yourself. If you want to cut out a child, everything needs to be perfect. If not, the child will contest the will and will win that contest enabling him or her to receive his or her intestate share (as if you did not have a will).
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    You don't have to leave anything to your child. It may be a good idea to leave a small bequest that is forfeited if the child contests your estate plan.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    Not leaving anything for a child does not necessarily give that child a right to contest the will. However, it might cause that child to contest just because they have nothing to lose. There are rules that you should follow when disinheriting a child and you should become familiar with the rules and issues of disinheritance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    You can disinherit a child, however, you must include language that he has received his inheritance during life or that he is to receive the least amount allowed under the law. Your financial plan is not complete until it is co-ordinated with your estate plan. Will your family be provided for when you are gone? Without a Will, the court will decide.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    No, you may exclude a child from your Will in Colorado. To avoid the application of pretermitted child rules, you should specifically state in the Will that you are leaving the specific child nothing. You can also state that you want that child to be presumed to have predeceased you for all purposes. However, there are many traps in doing this so before signing any Will, you should consult with at attorney who specializes in Wills and estate planning.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Winnick Ruben Hoffnung Peabody & Mendel, LLC | Daniel N. Hoffnung
    You should specifically exclude him/her Sometimes people leave a nominal amount to show that he/she was not forgotten Someone can always contest a will, but may not succeed
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 2/20/2013
    Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP | Kathleen DeLacy
    You do not have to include anyone in your Will that you do not want to include. I normally put in a sentence saying that you did not include the child intentionally so if they do contest it the Court will take your wishes into consideration and give it more weight. Also, if an attorney drafted the Will they should have a notation in their notes that you intentionally omitted gifts to a child.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 2/20/2013
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