Disinherit Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Disinherit, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Disinherit?

v. Intentionally guaranteeing that a person who normally would inherit upon a party’s death does not receive an inheritance. Provisions in a will or a codicil to a will state who is disinherited and is not to receive anything. If a will ignores or does not mention a child, he/she may become a “pretermitted heir” and may still qualify for an inheritance. Spouses can be disinherited only to the degree that the law of states allow. Challengers to a will’s validity can also by disinherited through a “in terrorism” clause which may state “I leave anyone who challenges this will or any part of it one dollar.”

History and Meaning of Disinherit

Disinheritance is the deliberate act of preventing a person who would typically inherit upon one's death from receiving their inheritance. It is a legal term that refers to the act of excluding a person from an inheritance in a will or any other relevant document. Disinheritance has existed for centuries and has been a way for individuals to control who receives their property after their passing. Disinheriting someone could be motivated by various reasons, including strained relationships, a desire to give inheritance to someone who needs it more, or an attempt to protect the estate from creditors.

Examples of Disinherit

  1. In his will, John disinherited his son James for being constantly absent from his life.
  2. Sara was the favorite grandchild; hence she felt hurt and surprised when her grandmother disinherited her in the will.
  3. The deceased's estranged wife was disinherited in the will and received nothing.

Legal Terms Similar to Disinherit

  1. Probate: Legal proceedings through which a court validates a will and carries out its instructions.
  2. Intestate: This refers to the legal status of a person who dies without a valid will.
  3. Bequest: A gift of personal property or money that is left to someone in a will.