Although a spouse may not totally disinherit a surviving spouse, the law provides no obligation that you must leave property to your children. But the law does require that you mention your children within your will in order to omit the child. Any child not mentioned there is considered an omitted or pretermitted child, and, therefore, is 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 to her. Oftentimes, parents provide a handwritten letter to their attorney that explains 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.
About Todd Ratner, Featured Attorney, Springfield, Massachusetts
Attorney Todd C. Ratner is an associate in the law firm of Bacon Wilson, P.C., with offices in Springfield, Massachusetts and other locations in Western Massachusetts. Todd is a member of the firm's Estate Planning & Elder, Real Estate and Business & Corporate departments. You may reach Attorney Ratner at (413) 781-0560.