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Can I disinherit a child in Colorado?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2023 | Estate Planning News

If you are a parent who is planning your estate in Colorado, you may have some questions about how to distribute your assets among your children. You may also wonder if you can disinherit a child. Unfortunately, our state has protections for children’s inheritance rights, especially for minor children. However, there are also ways to legally disinherit a child or limit their access to your estate.

Disinheriting a minor child in Colorado

A minor child is someone under 18 years old or who is still dependent on their parents for support. According to Colorado law, you cannot simply disinherit a minor child by leaving them out of your will. A minor child is entitled to a portion of their parent’s estate, regardless of what the will says.

Why? Colorado law recognizes that parents have a duty to provide for their minor children, even after death. If a parent dies without a will, or with a will that disinherits a minor child, the court will apply the rules of intestate succession to determine how much the child should receive.

Disinheriting an adult child in Colorado

Unlike a minor child, an adult child does not have a statutory right to inherit from their parent in Colorado. This means that you can disinherit an adult child by leaving them out of your will or by explicitly stating your intention to do so in your will.

However, this does not mean that disinheriting an adult child is easy or risk-free. There are some potential pitfalls and consequences that you should be aware of before making this decision.

Silence is not always golden

Leaving your child out of the will may cause family conflict and resentment, and your silence could be used against your estate. Your child may argue that you were mentally incompetent, unduly influenced or coerced when you made your will. They may also claim that you forgot to include them in your will or that you made a mistake.

Be clear and explicit

To prevent these probate legal challenges from your disinherited child, you should make sure that your will is clear, valid and up to date. Make it clear in the will that it is your intention to disinherit that child. You should also communicate with your family members about your wishes and explain your reasons for disinheriting your child.

There are tax implications

Disinheriting an adult child may have tax implications. Colorado law allows you to claim an exemption for each person who would inherit from you under the intestate succession rules, if you died without a will. If you disinherit an adult child who would otherwise inherit from you under these rules, you lose their exemption.