What Rights Do Children Have When Their Parent Dies with a Will

What Rights Do Children Have When Their Parent Dies with a Will?

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Losing a parent can be an emotionally draining experience. Understanding the legalities surrounding inheritance can seem complex and overwhelming at such times. In this article, we’ll look at what rights children have when their parent dies with a will and how the legal process unfolds.

by | Apr 8, 2023

The Importance of a Will

A will is a legal document that outlines one’s wishes regarding the distribution of assets and property after death. Having a will is essential, as it guarantees that the deceased’s wishes are respected and prevents potential disputes among family members.

When a Parent Passes Away With a Will

Child’s Rights

When a parent passes away with a will, their children’s rights depend on the provisions outlined in the document. The will should specify what benefits the child is entitled to–whether it be an amount, percentage of the estate, or specific assets.

Executor’s Responsibilities

Executors are accountable for administering the estate of a deceased person, including distributing assets according to their will. They must guarantee that children’s rights are respected and their inheritance secured.

Legal Process

Probate is the legal procedure wherein a court validates a will and gives its executor authority to manage the estate. Once this has been done, they must distribute assets according to the will’s provisions.

Inheritance Rights


A beneficiary is an individual named in a will to receive part of the deceased’s estate. Children may be direct beneficiaries, inheriting assets outright, or contingent beneficiaries, inheriting only under certain conditions (e.g., reaching a certain age).


A parent may create a trust in their will to manage the child’s inheritance. Trusts can be used for asset protection, educational expenses, or financial support up until adulthood.

Intestate Succession

In the event of the death of a parent without a will, their estate is distributed according to the state’s intestate succession laws. In most cases, however, the child would still be entitled to some portion of the estate.

Factors Affecting Entitlement

Provisions of the Will

A parent’s will specifies what rights their child will inherit. They can leave specific assets or a percentage of their estate to the child or divide it equally among all children.

Relationship With the Deceased

The child’s relationship with a deceased parent may affect their entitlements. For instance, if they remarried and had stepchildren, the will may provide for a different distribution of assets.

Age and Maturity

The age and maturity of a child can influence their entitlement. A parent might include provisions in their will that limit access to inheritance until they reach certain ages or achieve certain milestones (e.g., graduating from college).

Financial Needs

Parents may take into account their child’s financial requirements when creating a will. If the child has special requirements or requires ongoing care, parents may allocate more of their estate to ensure their well-being.

Challenging a Will

Grounds for Contesting

A child may contest a will if they believe it to be invalid or doesn’t accurately reflect the deceased’s intentions. Common grounds for contesting a will include lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, or fraud.

Legal Procedures

The child must initiate legal proceedings in probate court to contest a will. This process can be complex and usually necessitates the assistance of an attorney.

Time Limits

There are time limits for contesting a will, which vary by jurisdiction. It is critical that children act quickly if they believe they have grounds to contest the will.

Protecting a Child’s Rights

Protecting the interests of a child is paramount when making any parenting decision.

Legal Advice

Seeking legal guidance from an experienced estate attorney is the best way to guarantee that a child’s rights are safeguarded and that they receive their fair share of the estate.

Trustee Services

In certain situations, a professional trustee can be appointed to manage the trust and protect the child’s interests.

Considerations for Inheritance

It is essential for the child and their guardian to plan ahead for inheritance and consider its use. This could include setting aside funds for education, investing assets, or dealing with any tax implications that may arise.


Knowing a child’s entitlement when their parent passes away with a will is essential for protecting their rights and inheriting an estate. The amount depends on various factors such as the will’s provisions, their relationship to the deceased, and any financial needs. In certain circumstances, challenging the will may be necessary; thus, seeking legal counsel and taking action promptly is essential.


  • Can a child inherit property if they aren’t mentioned in the will?

In certain circumstances, yes. If the will is declared invalid or successfully challenged, the child may inherit under your state’s intestate succession laws.

  • What Happens if a Child Isn’t Mentioned in the Will?

If a child is left out of a will, they may not be entitled to any inheritance. However, they can still contest it if they believe their inclusion was unjustly overlooked.

  • Can a parent disinherit their child in the will?

Yes, parents have the option to disinherit their children. In certain jurisdictions, however, children may still have certain rights to the estate, such as making an inherited claim or asserting forced heirship rights.

Probate can range from several months to years, depending on how complex the estate is and any disputes that may arise.

  • Are inheritances taxed?

Inheritance tax laws vary between jurisdictions. In some cases, beneficiaries may need to pay taxes on their inheritance, while in others, the estate could be subject to taxation before distribution. You must consult a tax professional for a more detailed understanding of the tax implications associated with an inheritance.

What Rights Do Children Have When Their Parent Dies with a Will

Trust Administration

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Trust administration manages the assets in a trust according to the Trust’s terms to benefit the heirs and beneficiaries following the grantor’s death. Trust administration is a multi-step process that involves mountainous paperwork and dealings with courts. Working with a trust attorney can be instrumental in streamlining the whole process.

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