How to Leave Property to Adult Children

Leaving property to adult children in Florida can raise many questions. Do adult children inherit automatically? Should you jointly title assets with an adult child to make estate administration easier? And what happens if a parent decides to leave a child out of their will?

The information below can help you understand the estate planning process, including the benefits and potential issues with leaving property to adult children.

Is an Adult Child Entitled to Inheritance in Florida?

The answer to this question depends on whether the deceased person left a valid will or trust. Under Florida state law, if someone dies intestate (without leaving a will), the estate passes to the decedent’s surviving spouse or children.

If the person was unmarried but had children, the children will receive equal shares of the estate. If the decedent had a spouse and had children from a previous marriage, the estate splits 50-50 between the surviving spouse and the children.

However, a will allows you to distribute your estate however you wish. You can allocate assets and property to intended recipients and leave a child out of your will if you choose.

Disinheriting an Adult Child in Florida

A parent may decide to disinherit an adult child for many reasons. Maybe you and your child have become estranged, or maybe you are wary of leaving assets to a child who shows irresponsible financial behavior.

If you leave an adult child out of your list of beneficiaries, they may decide to challenge your will. To avoid this, you must acknowledge the existence of all your children in your estate plan and intentionally state that you have decided to disinherit one or more children. Doing so will prevent those children from claiming that you forgot to include them in your will.

You may prefer not to disinherit a child entirely but give them a smaller portion of your estate. However, as a beneficiary, an adult child may try to interfere with estate administration and cause delays for your other heirs. You can avoid this situation by leaving children out of your estate plan but making them the death beneficiaries of a designated account.

Problems with Jointly Titling Assets with a Child in Florida

Some people decide to transfer assets into joint ownership with their adult children to avoid probate. However, this strategy can cause serious problems if:

  • Your marriage ends in divorce and asset division
  • Your child needs to declare bankruptcy
  • The IRS targets your adult child’s assets

A safer and simpler way to bypass probate would be to set up a living trust and name your children as beneficiaries. This method protects your property from creditors and allows you fuller control of your assets, and it still keeps the property out of probate. If probate avoidance is not an objective, you could instead use an enhanced life estate deed to allow you to retain control of your property during your lifetime and automatically transfer the property to your beneficiaries after your death. 

Discuss Property Division Options With an Experienced Florida Estate Planning Attorney

A comprehensive estate plan helps you prepare for the future, protects your legacy, and preserves your peace of mind. At the law office of Amy L. Phillips, we are here to help you draft an estate plan that will cover you and your family in any situation.