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Can you disinherit your children in Tennessee?

| May 14, 2021 | will execution |

People often have a lot of questions about what they can and cannot do with their property in their estate plans. For example, a parent may not want to leave cash or assets behind for a child who has turned their backs on the family or demonstrated irresponsible behavior, like gambling or drug use. However, they may worry that disinheriting someone could lead to them making claims against the estate.

There are laws that regulate estates and inheritances at both the federal and state levels. Do you have the right to disinherit your children when you are unhappy with their life decisions or want to allocate your resources elsewhere, or does Tennessee probate law prevent you from doing so?

Children do not have a statutory right of inheritance in Tennessee

Some people do have a legal right to claim specific property when a family member dies. Spouses, for example, have a right to a certain percentage of an estate even if the testator does not name them in the will.

Invoking a statutory right to inheritance can supersede the estate plan, but it is not an option for children. A child’s inheritance occurs due to the goodwill of a parent, not any sort of legal obligation. However, if you intend to disinherit a child, you will want to do so explicitly. Simply not naming them could give them grounds to claim you forgot to include them. That opens the door to a legal challenge against your plan.

Using the proper language and the right structure for your estate plan will make it much easier to decrease the risk of a will challenge. This is especially important if you are disinheriting an immediate family member.