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Can you leave a child out of your will in Florida?

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2023 | Trust & Estate Planning

Parents may have a reason to leave their child out of their will. For example, some figure their child already has plenty of money, so prefer to give their wealth to someone who needs it more.

Others believe inheriting will remove their child’s motivation to strive to succeed. In other cases, it’s because the child has serious substance abuse problems, so the parents fear their child would squander the money and possibly end up dead in the process. In a few situations, the reluctance to leave a dime is down to an acrimonious falling out sometime in the past.

You can’t exclude a minor

Whatever a parent’s reason for wanting to exclude their child from their will, they cannot do it if they die when the child is still under 18 years of age. Florida homestead law prohibits this. Once the child is an adult, a parent is free to leave them nothing.

You need to make your intention clear

An adult child who is left nothing may seek to contest the will in court. They’d need to prove that someone unduly influenced you to leave them out or that you were not in a fit mental state when you made the will. Or that the will is not legally valid.

Even if they fail in their quest, it will create a lot of discomfort for those you do leave things to. So, to avoid problems, you can do two things. Firstly, make it explicit in your will that you are intentionally leaving nothing to your child. It prevents them from arguing it was an oversight. 

Secondly, explain why you are making this decision to them. While that conversation may be challenging, it might even lead you to change your mind.