I always tell people that they have no right to an inheritance from a parent. I also tell people that debt comes before equity. All creditors must be paid by an estate before people listed in a will or trust get a dime.
That being said, you can disinherit a child but if you do so it has to be done correctly. The best way is to mention the child by name and then state that the child is to receive nothing or a token amount. It is not a good idea to list why this decision was made. In some cases, the child has received money from the parent during the parent’s life.
In a recent case out of Douglas County, the deceased did not mention his daughter by name – in any fashion at all – in his will. He did, however, mention his son. The son was defined to be his children or issue. The problem arose because in another part of the will it was written, “I give the residue of my estate to my issue, per stirpes.” The son argued that he was to receive the entire net estate. The daughter asserted that since she was the actual issue of the deceased she was entitled to one-half as that is the per stirpes division.
The county court and Nebraska Supreme Court held that since there was a patent ambiguity, it had to legally interpret the will. The law is that a person who makes a will will not be held to have disinherited an heir unless done expressly in the will or by necessary implication. Therefore, the daughter got half of an estate worth over $2 million.
Source: In re Estate of Brinkman, 308 Neb. 117 (January 8, 2021).