An occasional question that comes up in drafting a will, is whether the person making a will can disinherit a child. The simple answer is that in Tennessee, parents can disinherit a son or daughter. No reason needs to be stated in the will.

Some think they must leave a child a dollar. That is not correct. Leaving someone a dollar can be troublesome for the executor. Before probate can be closed, a receipt must be filed for each beneficiary. A beneficiary who receives only $1.00 may not feel like cooperating and require extra filings and additional court proceedings to close the estate.

Caution should be exercised in disinheriting a child. Disinheriting children often results in hard feelings and family discord. The disinherited child may claim that the beneficiaries of the will used undue influence on the parent to receive a larger share of the estate. This may result in an expensive will contest lawsuit and trial.

Although children may be disinherited, a spouse may not. In Tennessee, a surviving spouse is entitled to an elective share of the estate, regardless of what the will provides. The percentage of the spouse’s share depends on the length on marriage.

Disinheriting a child should be carefully discussed with an attorney when drafting a will. There are numerous facts that should be taken into account, including how the language of the will should reflect how children are treated.

If you would like to speak to James Wagner on this or any other matter, he may be reached at (865) 546-9321.