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Can a parent in Maryland legally disinherit their child?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Estate Planning |

People engaged in estate planning tend to prioritize leaving resources for spouses, children and grandchildren. However, families go through many different types of changes and hardships that can put strain on previously close relationships.

A divorce, a struggle with addiction and a host of other family challenges might potentially culminate in estrangement and unhealthy family relationships. Sometimes, parents go years without communicating with their adult children and have little reason to expect that those circumstances may change. Those parents might decide that they want to disinherit one of their children while leaving resources for other family members.

Is it possible to disinherit a child in Maryland?

Children do not have a right to inheritance

There is only one scenario in which Maryland state law potentially protects the right of a child to inherit from an estate. If a parent dies without a will, intestate succession laws give their children inheritance rights in theory.

Provided that the deceased party took the time to establish an estate plan, they can create totally unique arrangements for the distribution of their resources after their passing. The choice to disinherit an estranged child is a relatively common one. There is an appropriate way to accomplish that goal.

Testators generally need to reference the choice to disinherit someone in their will or make a point of leaving a single, low-value asset to the disinherited child. Otherwise, the disinherited family member might challenge the estate plan by claiming the testator left them out of the documents by accident or oversight.

Some people try to avoid conflict by using a trust instead of a will. However, there could still be conflict related to any assets not held in the trust during the probate proceeding. Testators who take the time to mention the decision to disinherit a family member are more likely to achieve their goals. They may also want to discuss that choice with their family so that it isn’t a surprise during the reading of the will after their death.

Adding the right details to an estate plan can help people achieve their personal goals for their lasting legacies. Reflecting on family relationships may help people determine what estate planning wishes they want to convey. Seeking personalized guidance can help them to determine how to achieve that goal effectively.