Although a spouse may not disinherit a surviving spouse, the law provides no obligation that you must to leave property to your children. But the law does require that you mention your child within your will in order to omit him or her.
Any child not mentioned there is considered an omitted or pretermitted child, and therefore, entitled to an intestate portion of your estate. In order to avoid this potentially unwanted scenario, you must mention the child within your will without leaving him or her any property.
For example, suppose the Smiths have three children, Jack, Ella, and Emily. When it comes to disposing of their property, the Smiths do not wish to provide for Ella. Therefore, they must express within their respective wills that they do not wish to leave anything her. Oftentimes, parents provide a handwritten letter to their attorney that explaines their reasons for omitting their child.
It is also important to ensure that all assets are titled properly, as assets that are jointly owned and/or have designated beneficiaries pass outside of your will. So, if you are interested in providing for a child, your assets must be thoroughly reviewed to ensure that your plan ultimately meets your desired wishes. An experienced estate planning attorney would be of great assistance.
Todd C. Ratner, Esq.
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