I am often asked by clients who are estranged from their children whether they can exclude their children from their wills. Section 1(d) of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 gives adult children the right to contest a will bringing a claim for reasonable financial provision if they have not received provision or if they have received insufficient provision from their parents’ estate. This right cannot be excluded. The matters to be taken into account when deciding whether an adult child has received reasonable financial provision include:
The financial resources and needs of the adult child
The financial resources and needs of any other beneficiary of the estate
The obligations and responsibilities of the deceased
The size and nature of the estate of the deceased
Any physical or mental disability of the adult child
Any other matter including the conduct of the adult child or any other person
The cases establish that the court will consider all the circumstances in disputes including the headings above and will balance all the factors when establishing whether an adult child has been left reasonable financial provision.
You may have recently heard on the news of the case of Heather Ilott who went to court after her mother Melita Jackson left her £486,000 estate to animal charities when she died in 2004. Melita had no intention of benefitting Heather and Heather knew that. She and her mother had been estranged for many years. The Court of Appeal ruled that Heather was entitled to a third of her mother’s estate.
It was significant in Heather’s case that her mother had little connection with the animal charities she chose to benefit. It was also significant that Heather was not well off and wished to purchase her housing association property.
How will this decision affect claims by adult children? An adult child has always been in a category of applicants who can make a claim and this remains unchanged. What it might do though is encourage those adult children to bring claims spurred on by Heather’s success especially those who are in difficult financial circumstances.
This does not mean that all adult children claims will be successful. It does however mean that if you are considering excluding your adult children from your will you should explain why and you should also explain what connects you to those you do leave money to.
When making a will you should always take legal advice from a solicitor and this is especially so if you believe any persons may make a claim against your estate after your death
If you have any concerns about the above or indeed any other legal matters then you can e mail email@example.com or call one of our offices on 01425 621515 (New Milton) 01425 279222 (Highcliffe) or 01425 673994 (Bransgore)