Question:  Today, I learned that my Father cut me out of his will. We have a difficult history, I admit.  But, is it legal?  Can a parent keep a child from their inheritance?

Answer:  Regardless if your Father’s motivation, he is allowed to disinherit his child from his estate.  No parent is obligated to leave assets to their children.  However, the law hasn’t forgotten about you, completely.

If your dad is unmarried, your siblings and you can claim right to $10,000 in assets. This is the minimal inheritance guarantee provided by Massachusetts statute – even though you were omitted from his will.  Don’t get too excited, though. All siblings must share the $10,000 equally.

The low financial benefit, and possible high cost of enforcing a child’s statutory right, usually dissuades action.  Other kids may assert their rights as a battle ground in a larger family dispute.  Either way, it helps to know your rights.

Attorney James Haroutunian practices real estate law, estate planning and probate law in Billerica at 630 Boston Road.  Contact him with questions at,, 978-671-0711 or email him at

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