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pretermitted heir

n. the child of a person who has written a will in which the child is not left anything and is not mentioned at all. After the death of the parent, a pretermitted heir has the right to demand the share he/she would have received as an heir under the laws of distribution and descent. The reasoning is that the parent either inadvertently forgot the child or incorrectly believed the child was dead, and did not mean to leave him/her out. Thus, if someone wishes to disinherit a child or omit him/her from his/her will, that parent should specifically state in the will: "I leave nothing to my son, Gordon," with or without a reason. Otherwise there may be unfair and unintended results. Example: Tommy Testator has three children, gives two of them $10,000 each, and the remainder (which turns out to be a million dollars) to set up a scholarship fund for orphans. His omitted child, who has not spoken to him for 20 years, is a pretermitted heir entitled to one-third of the estate, and will receive $340,000 compared to his siblings' specified $10,000 each.

See also: heir 

The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications