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Disinherited Child

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"It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son, Christopher, or my daughter, Christina, for reasons which are well known to them."
Joan Crawford toward her two eldest children, Mommie Dearest

A disinherited child is a child whose parents disinherited them.

Such a drastic action might be taken only for grave reasons: for example, the son was estranged from his parents or might dissipate the estate his parents have worked for. In other cases, it might be more petty reasons such as homosexuality or marrying the "wrong" spouse (read: the spouse was disliked by the parents). More can be found here.

Such a disposition might cause strife in the family, especially if other siblings are present and able to inherit.

Unlike Passed-Over Inheritance, the disinherited party is an heir whose parent makes it clear they're cut out of the inheritance (thus "disinherited") in immediate response to an unfortunate situation. Passed-Over Inheritance describes someone who thought they were entitled to an inheritance, but it turns out during a will reading that they were excluded.

May be done to an Inadequate Inheritor or The Unfavorite.

Compare I Have No Son!. Contrast Rejecting the Inheritance and Disowned Parent, when it's the parent who gets cut off.


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    Comic Books 
  • Chick Tracts:
    • In "Payback," Kelly tricks the old man she's nursing into signing his estate to her and cutting his children out of the will, before letting him die to get everything he has. When Kelly converts to Christianity as she's dying, she makes amends by including his children in the will.
    • In "The Slugger" and "The Superstar," the pro athlete cuts his entire family(including any children he may have had) out of the will in favor of the gardener who converted him to Christianity, simply because he believes the man in question is the only one who will use his money wisely.
  • Sensation Comics: In the Wonder Woman feature, the matriarch of the Heyday family has disinherited her only surviving son Joel in favor of his three orphaned nieces, due to the fact that Joel is a career criminal. When he learns this, he tries to murder his nieces so that their inheritance will default back to him.

    Comic Strips 
  • Blondie (1930): In the earliest days of the strip, Dagwood is revealed to be the son of very wealthy parents who detest Blondie. When he marries her anyway, his parents disinherit him.

    Fan Works 
  • All the Young Dudes has Sirius cast out of the Black family in this fashion, though he's fortunate enough to receive an Unexpected Inheritance from his Uncle Alphard.
  • In The Black Sheep Dog Series, this is subverted — while Sirius and the rest of the world believed that his father Orion disinherited him the moment he ran away, it turns out that he's still legally the heir.
    Sirius: What—what is there to misunderstand? You were very, very clear—
    Orion: I wasn't, obviously. You see, when I said 'nothing has changed'—what I meant was nothing has ever changed.
  • Catarina Claes MUST DIE! inverts this: after Henrietta realizes her mistakes, she attempts to save her family from the fallout by claiming to have disclaimed herself from House Garland. Also played straight in how her parents fully accept this, telling her via letter not to contact them, as they will need some time before they are willing to see or speak with her again.
  • Dein Weg Ist Mein Weg has poor Maho get disinherited shortly before revealing that they were the result of an affair, with the uninvolved parent leaping upon the opportunity to punish the child by cutting them off.
  • The Odaliaverse reveals that while Edric and Emira were never disowned, both were denied any chance to lead Blight Industries once it became clear that neither one was especially skilled at Oracle or Abomination magic.
  • In Harry Potter fanfic The Peace Not Promised, Eileen Prince has been disowned from the wealthy and powerful Prince family for marrying a muggle, but this leaves the aging patriarch with no heirs at all, and Eileen is ultimately miserable with her choice, as Tobias is alcoholic and abusive. Her son Severus is able to make a deal with his grandfather, to have her reinstated in exchange for having nothing more to do with muggles, and she accepts. However, since Severus himself is unwilling to give up the muggle-born witch he loves, he is unable to accept a similar offer, and his mother has to reluctantly disinherit and cut ties with him in turn.
  • Thy Good Neighbor: Deconstructed with Brandon Stark. After he conducts himself shamefully during a duel with the Hunter, his father is pressured to disinherit him. Despite very much not wanting to do so, he ultimately declares that in six years, his son will "willingly" remove himself from the line of succession, taking some money and loyal men as he sets out to find his own fortune.
    • Evetta (the Doll) herself also counts. At the end of his existence, Gehrman clearly did not see her as a sentient being, so he left his worldly possessions to Cyril, who desperately tried to give them back to her, since he, as a Noble Scion, had no real need for any of it. She, however, kept rebuffing him, but the conversations they had on the topic were the start of their courtship and eventual marriage.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Always Coming Home has the Dayao leader imprisoning and then killing his own son when he disagrees with his policies.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Variant in book #25 (The Cat Who Brought Down the House) in that it's a nephew rather than a son, but Thelma Thackeray had changed her will so her nephew — her only blood relative — was her primary heir. After discovering he was a murderer, she specifically changed it again to disinherit him, leaving everything to a foundation that will reestablish her late brother's animal clinic as a memorial to him.
  • The Fifth Season: Tonkee was quietly shuffled off to a university and disinherited by her aristocratic family because she (a) showed far more interest in academia than in rule and (b) disrupted a politically sensitive Arranged Marriage plan by coming out as Transgender. She's equally relieved to be out of the family.
  • Ivanhoe by Walter Scott has been disinherited by his Saxon father, Cedric of Rotherwood, because Ivanhoe allied with Norman King Richard to fight in the Crusades. Cedric would even deny Ivanhoe suitor status to his ward, Rowena; Cedric aims to wed Rowena to Athelstane to bolster the Saxon nobility. Upon returning to England incognito, Ivanhoe enters a combat tournament with "Desdichado" (unfortunate, wretched) printed on his shield.
  • Tashir Remoerdis in the middle of the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy is disowned during a dinner on suspicion of being the product of Brother–Sister Incest (as he resembles his mother's side of the family and was born eight months after the wedding). It doesn't seem to have been formalized though, as he's the Sole Survivor of a Ruling Family Massacre and subsequently finds himself inheriting everything.
  • "Talma Gordon": After Captain Gordon's murder, it comes to light that he planned to leave his daughters only a small annuity, the bulk of his fortune going to his son.
  • In The Watsons (unfinished novel) by Jane Austen, Emma Watson is brought up by her childless aunt and uncle and is expected to inherit their fortune. However, her uncle dies and his wife (Emma's aunt) inherits the property. She remarries and her new husband doesn't want Emma to live with them. So Emma must return home to relative poverty.
    "The change in her home, society, and style of life, in consequence of the death of one friend and the imprudence of another, had indeed been striking. From being the first object of hope and solicitude to an uncle who had formed her mind with the care of a parent, and of tenderness to an aunt whose amiable temper had delighted to give her every indulgence; from being the life and spirit of a house where all had been comfort and elegance, and the expected heiress of an easy independence, she was become of importance to no one — a burden on those whose affections she could not expect, an addition in a house already overstocked, surrounded by inferior minds, with little chance of domestic comfort, and as little hope of future support."

    Video Games 
  • In Crusader Kings II and III, landed nobles can force their vassals, including their children, to join monastic orders/nunneries which removes them from the line of succession. III also allows a ruler to directly disinherit or disown undesirable heirs.
  • Dark Souls: Gwyn, the god of sunlight and Top God, had a nasty habit of doing this. He Un-Personed his first son and most likely heir for siding with the dragons in the Great Offscreen War; Gwyndolin was raised as a female for showing affinity to the moon and is effectively absent from Anor Londo's imagery; Gwynevere left Anor Londo when things started going downhill; and he turned his youngest daughter, Filianore, into a Barrier Maiden for the Ringed City to contain the Pygmies.
  • Subversion: Leandra, Hawke's mother in Dragon Age II, thinks she is this because her parents disowned her when she eloped with Malcolm Hawke. Her brother Gamlen lets her go on believing it. However, Hawke recovers Grandfather Amell's will from the old family vault, and it's revealed that he actually left his daughter everything.
  • In Fallout 4's "Nuka-World" DLC, the leaders of the Operators gang, Mags and William Black, were disinherited by their family and exiled from their home in Diamond City for unspecified crimes that were making it almost impossible for their family to conduct business.
  • In Final Fantasy XVI, this is the protagonist Clive's backstory. Despite being the Rosarian royal family's eldest son, he was ousted from succession due to his failure to manifest as the Dominant of Phoenix and his younger brother Joshua was made the heir. Unusually, nobody really holds this against him, and he still manages to earn considerable respect as a soldier. At the same time, Clive's shy younger brother idolizes him while viewing himself as The Wrongful Heir to the Throne. Not that any of it ends up mattering much, since an invasion from a neighboring country leaves Joshua dead and Clive sold into slavery by his own mother.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • Miklan, the eldest son of House Gautier and Sylvain's older brother, is disinherited because he didn't inherit a Crest. This means that he cannot wield his family's weapon, the Lance of Ruin, without turning into a mindless monster, and since House Gautier relies on the strength of their Relic to keep the people of the Sreng region at bay, they insist that their heirs possess Crests. It's unclear whether Miklan's parents were aware that he tried to kill Sylvain on multiple occasions.
    • More broadly, such disinheritance or demotion to lesser inheritance is common amongst Fodlan's nobility with King Lambert inheriting the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus over his older brother Rufus, as Lambert inherited the Crest of Blaiddyd while Rufus was born without a Crest, and so Rufus received the lesser inheritance of the Grand Duchy of Itha. Similarly, Hilda is in line for certain inheritances in the House of Goneril over her older brother, Holst, as she bears the Crest of Goneril and Holst does not, though the specifics are less clear than other cases. Generally, children or even nieces and nephews with Crests are favored over those without for inheritance.
  • In Potionomics, Baptise is the third son of a duke which made them as their father called them, "The heir, the spare and the stand-over-there."

    Visual Novels 
  • Zigzagged with both Lainie and Amanda in Daughter for Dessert. After Lainie fell in with a cult, her father only let her access her money if she could prove that she would only spend it on herself. Then, she died in poverty after having the protagonist use her treatment money as startup capital. Amanda is then unaware of her mother's family’s wealth until Cecilia shows up and promises her access to her mother’s inheritance, but only if she were to forsake her father. Amanda first gives an unequivocal refusal, but Cecilia almost manages to convince her to reverse her decision before her father forces the truth.
  • In Tyrion Cuthbert: Attorney of the Arcane, the cornerstone of the prosecution in Case 4 is that William Frega disinherited his daughter Beatrice on the night of his murder, giving her a motive. The youngest daughter, Miriam, testifies that the disinheritance happened 5 years ago, which if true would remove the motive. William made the decision after speaking with Beatrice on the night of the murder. Beatrice killed him before he could update his will.


    Web Animation 
  • MoniRobo: Ryuta was stripped of his right to inheritance and disowned by his father Shogo for shoving his stepmother Hanayo down the stairs to murder both her and her unborn baby in order to secure it for himself.

    Web Video 
  • In episode 1 of the second season of Nightmare Time, "Honey Queen," Mima Chambers disinherits her grandson, Zach, after her granddaughter Zoey outs him as being gay.

    Western Animation 
  • The Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Pound of the Baskervilles" has elder brother Howard Bask residing in the manor house, while the younger brother Roger lives in a servants' shanty. At the time, their father was believed to have died intestate, which would normally apportion equal shares of the Bask estate. Howard, however, levers his elder brother status and bullish girth to accord himself the lion's share. When the Rescue Rangers discover the hidden will, it specifies that Roger should be the sole inheritor, leaving nothing to the oafish, pompous Howard.
  • One of the gags of Jay Sherman waking up to a phone call in the series' opening of The Critic had Jay being told by his mother that his parents are removing him from their will with the reasoning that he has enough money already.
  • DuckTales (2017): Played for Laughs: During board game night, Scrooge in full Serious Business mode threatens to cut out his nephew Donald from his Will if they lose. Donald's only reaction is mild surprise that he was even in the will to begin with.
    • Word of God has stated that despite numerous references to Scrooge's will (mostly from Louie, his grand-nephew who is obsessed with Scrooge's fortune with the understanding that it will be his one day), the truth is that Scrooge doesn't have a will since he is convinced that he will live forever.

    Real Life 
  • In 1983, J. Howard Marshall III was disinherited by his father J. Howard Marshall II, later husband to Anna Nicole Smith, for siding with the wrong side during the dispute over the ownership of Koch Industries and then forcing his father to buy back the 4% interest in Koch Industries that was gifted to him.
  • Averted in the legal systems with forced heirship, which ban a testator from completely cutting his children from his will, barring grievous acts against him by the children.
  • Melita Jackson, Heather Ilott's mother, disinherited her only daughter after she eloped at 17 with her boyfriend she later married and left her entire estate to three animal charities. Heather later managed to get a small part of Melita's estate after suing in court.
    I can see no reason why my daughter should benefit in any way from my estate. I have made it clear to my daughter... that she can expect no inheritance from me when I die.
  • Joan Crawford disinherited her two eldest children. Christina would publish Mommie Dearest a year later.
  • B.D. Hyman, the daughter of Bette Davis, was removed from her mother's will for writing My Mother's Keeper, a supposed tell-all that detractors saw as an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Mommie Dearest.
  • In 1899, British conductor and impresario Thomas Beecham (best known as the co-founder of the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras) was disinherited by his father, Joseph, when he and his sister Emily secured their mother Josephine's release from a mental hospital. After reconciling with Joseph ten years later, Thomas used his father's fortune to promote operas at Covent Garden and His Majesty's Theatre until the outbreak of World War II.
  • Benjamin Franklin disinherited his son William, who had sided with the British during The American Revolution. After the war, they saw each other one last time to settle some financial and legal matters. In his will, Benjamin left William almost nothing except some near-worthless land in Canada, justifying his stance by claiming if England had won the war, he would've been left with nothing anyway.
  • Infamous hotelier and "Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley cut two of her four grandchildren out of her will while providing lavishly for her well-named Maltese dog, Trouble. After legal action the dog's trust fund was reduced and the grandchildren split a $6 million bequest. However, Helmsley left the bulk of her estate to a charitable trust focused on cardiovascular disease and tropical illnesses.