Your Trusted Legal Resource

A child left out of the will: Can this be a ground for a contest?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2023 | Estate Litigation, Probate |

When testators have families, they usually include their spouses and children as beneficiaries of their wills. Consequently, a child not being part of the document raises doubts as to the will’s validity. This situation brings up the question of whether it can be a ground to challenge the will’s validity during probate.

It can be, under certain circumstances

Generally, the fact that a testator leaves their child, whether biological or adopted, out of the will is not a ground to challenge the document. However, it can be if the omission was unintentional or accidental and the testator could not update their will before they passed away.

Under Florida laws, these omitted children are called pretermitted children and could still receive their share of the decedent’s estate under the state’s intestacy laws.

The exceptions to the exception

Despite the existence of all the elements of a pretermitted child, they will not inherit anything from the estate if:

  • The testator had one or more children upon the will’s execution and assigned the other surviving parent as a will beneficiary.
  • The child omitted from the will has already received an advance equivalent to their share of the estate.

While the laws protect children from not receiving what it entitles them to under intestacy laws, it also protects the estate from awarding the same child two times.

Facing the complex probate process

Probate is a complex maze with several legal terms, general rules and exceptions. Furthermore, it can get more complicated when disputes arise. Nonlegal individuals can easily lose their way in the process. Nonetheless, probate parties can face these challenges through adequate research and the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.