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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

A disinherited child is a child whose parents disinherited him.

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).


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

Unlike Passed-Over Inheritance, the disinherited party was an heir loses out on the inheritance (thus "disinherited") due 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.




  • 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.
  • 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."

Newspaper Comic

  • Blondie: 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.

Video Game

  • 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.
  • Crusader Kings 2: landed nobles can force their vassals, including their children, to join monastic orders/nunneries which removes them from the line of succession.
  • 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.

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.

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 completly 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. Hymen, 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.


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