Do Children of Divorced Parents Have Rights to Inherit Real Estate?

By Teo Spengler

Divorced parents can stay close to their kids, even if the other spouse has custody, but it doesn't always happen. A divorced parent who moves away or starts a new family may lose contact with the children from his prior marriage, and may even cut them out of his will. Only a few states give minor children the right to inherit a parent's real estate.

Inheritance Laws

Generally, an adult can leave his property to anyone he wishes, in a will. If a will is executed appropriately under state law and its terms are clear, probate courts must enforce it. Even minor children for whom the parent pays child support usually have no right to estate assets, if the parent does not provide for it in his will.

Accidental Disinheritance

Many state laws protect children from accidental disinheritance. This comes into play when a parent makes a will that leaves property to the children he had when he wrote the will. If he has children after the will is executed and never revises it, the law presumes that the disinheritance of later-born children was accidental.

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Homestead Exemption

Some states, like Florida, have laws that give minor children the right to inherit homestead property that belongs to a parent. Under the Florida constitution, if the parent writes a will leaving the homestead property to another person, the devise fails and intestate laws apply, giving the surviving spouse a life-estate and the minor children the remainder.

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New York's Children Inheritance Laws


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