Most people assume that they will be doing their estate planning long after their own parents have passed away. Generally, this is true, but there are plenty of cases where it’s not. Just a quick glance at the car accident statistics for any given year shows you that many people pass away unexpectedly.
Knowing this, and having young children of your own, you may decide to make your estate plan while your parents are alive and well. Are they entitled to anything, meaning you have to disinherit them if you don’t want your assets to go to them?
Few people are automatically entitled to an estate
The short answer is that no, your parents do not automatically get your assets and aren’t entitled to them. You do not have to do anything other than not list them in your will if you want your assets to go elsewhere. They can’t challenge your estate plan just because you left them out, as they should not have expected to be included.
The people who automatically count as heirs are just your immediate family. That starts with your spouse and includes your children. (If you have no other heirs by virtue of being unmarried and childless, then your parents may have a claim.)
You can add people to this group. If you write a will that includes your parents and then alter it to take them out, they could theoretically challenge the new will because they did expect to gain assets and the alterations took those away. If they think the alterations were illegally made — through fraud, undue influence, etc — they may challenge your will.
Creating the right plan for your needs
Working with an experienced attorney can help you make the right plan for your family because they’ll understand the implications of the law and what to expect. Be sure you know what options you have to get the results you want for your loved ones in case of your untimely death.