If you die without a will, your assets are split among your heirs according to the intestacy laws of your state. By drafting a will, you can decide who will receive your property. Your will also determines who will not receive your property. If your will excludes someone who otherwise would have received a share of your assets, you have disinherited them.
Disinheritance can be done purposefully or accidentally. An example of a purposeful disinheritance is a statement in a will such as "I leave nothing to my son John."
An example of an accidental disinheritance would be where a will specified that the son would receive a business and the daughter would receive the bank accounts. However, if the business was sold and the will not updated after the sale of the business, the money from the sale would pass to the daughter through the bank accounts, and the son would be accidentally disinherited.
Generally, you cannot disinherit your spouse completely. A child can usually be disinherited if the will clearly states that the child has been excluded. It is pretty easy to disinherit anyone else. If a person who is not a child or a spouse is not mentioned in your will, they will not inherit any of your property.
If you have any questions about disinheritance or wills in general, you should consult with an estate lawyer. An experienced attorney near you can explain your state’s laws governing inheritance, and let you know what your options are.