Can our adult children be excluded from my ex-husband's will?

Madonna l q asked...

My children's father and I have been divorced for 40 years. He always held down a good job, the same one as a grocery store manager. He remarried twice after me and had two sons with his second wife. He never kept in contact with my kids and hasn't talked to them in many years. He is very sick right now and probably will not live too many more years. Are my children legally entitled to any monies or properties that he has left or can he leave it to his other two boys and not leave my children anything?? Thanks.

Expert Answer

Whether your children are entitled to any property from your ex-husband's estate (property) depends on whether he has excluded them from his will or not. A parent can legally disinherit a child or children from inheriting any property from his or her estate. To accomplish this, a parent must, in the parent's will, expressly exclude (disinherit) the child or children.

If the parent has not expressly disinherited the child or children in the will, that child or children are entitled to a portion of the parent's estate, even if the parent did not leave them anything in the will, or mention those children at all. State law presumes that children not mentioned or provided for in a parent's will were unintentional omitted and therefore may inherit. [The technical terms for such children is "pretermitted heirs."] The percentage of the estate the omitted child or children may receive is set by the law of the state where the parent died.