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Do you have to include your children in your will in Florida?

As you prepare your will, you may wonder if you have to include all or any of your children in it. Perhaps your relationship with them is strained and contentious. Maybe some of your children are irresponsible with money or have addictions. You may not have even seen your children in decades. The problem may even lie with untrustworthy children-in-law who you believe would try to claim their spouse's inheritance by comingling it with marital assets. Whatever the reason, you do not need to feel any duty to include your children or guilt for not wanting to. Florida law does not mandate that you have to leave anything to them.

Exceptions to the rule

The law only applies to adult children. You have a legal obligation to leave financial provision for any minor children no matter what. The law also does not apply to court orders from a divorce or child support settlement that require you to continue financial support for your children after your passing.

The wrong way to disinherit your children

Simply choosing to leave out one or more of your children from your will is not enough to disinherit them. An exclusion can lead to contesting the accuracy of your will with the argument that it is not up-to-date or contains an error. Forgoing a will altogether is even worse. Florida law states that whatever does not pass to a surviving spouse, if there is one, goes to the children.

Leaving a single dollar is not a wise idea either because it allows the person to still be involved in the probate process and have access to information regarding your estate. If your child refuses to cooperate, it can result in conflict, delays and fees.

The right way to disinherit your children

To ensure there is no mistake in or misinterpretation of your will, declare outright which child or children you would like to disinherit. You should not give a reason why to avoid providing an avenue for challenging your wishes. You do not need to put in a no-contest clause either because it is not enforceable.

If you absolutely cannot completely disinherit your children, consider other ways to leave property to them without including them in your estate. For example, you can make each a beneficiary of a specific asset and keep these separate from your estate, or you can set up a trust for them that a trustee controls. To learn more options and draft an ironclad will, speak with a Florida estate planning attorney.

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