What can you do if a parent fails to make expected provision for you in his or her Will?
At C-PAID Solutions, we specialise in advising disappointed beneficiaries about how they may be able to secure the inheritance that they deserve. Our panel of specialist will dispute solicitors are prepared to act in appropriate cases on a No Win No Fee basis.
Contact us to receive free advice about whether you have a strong claim.
Did your mother or father fail to make appropriate provision for you?
It must have been an enormous shock when you discovered that you have not been left anything. And especially so if your siblings have been provided for, or if much needed funds were left to a charity instead.
It probably flies in the face of the many assurances that you received in childhood that you “will be looked after when I’m gone”, and the promise that you and your siblings “will always be treated equally”. You are left bewildered, questioning why this occurred. Did you do something wrong? Had your parent been suffering from some mental illness? Did your parent deliberately wish to insult you in this way?
It makes matters worse when you are already distraught over the loss of your loved one. You fear that they might have been manipulated into cutting you out of the Will, or worse still, that they might really have intended to be spiteful for some unknown or trivial reasons, increasing your grief and sense of loss.
Then you remember the plans that you had for your anticipated inheritance, and realise that your financial future is not secure.
What can you do?
The answer might come in what is known as an Inheritance Act claim.
As a child of the deceased, you are permitted to challenge your parent’s Will in order to show that the you have not been treated reasonably, and that you need provision from the estate for your reasonable maintenance.
The rules account for any natural child of the deceased, whether under the age of 18 or an adult. They apply equally to an illegitimate child as to children born into a marriage. They also apply to an adopted child.
The position of the infant child
We rarely see cases where the child of the deceased is actually under the age of 18. This is either because the parent will be more likely to make provision for a child who is still a minor, or because the obvious merit in such claims causes a large percentage of them to resolve without the need for the legal interference.
When legal assistance is needed, the court will consider the needs of an infant child to be a top priority, and the child’s case will usually trump that of other beneficiaries. The fact that the child might be illegitimate does not reduce this priority.
The court will also pay close attention to whether the infant child needs to be educated or trained, and will ensure that provision is made for the same.
The child who has grown up
The position of a child who has grown up and left home, and probably become financially independent of the parent, requires further consideration.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, or are even incapable of providing for yourself due to the state of your physical or mental health, then your prospects of a successful claim will be good. By contrast, if you are able-bodied, comparatively young, in employment and able to maintain yourself, your case will be viewed with a degree of scepticism.
The court’s normal reaction to a claim brought by an adult child is to ask “why should the estate be made to provide for you, if you are able to provide for yourself?” Nevertheless, the court will still interfere with the terms of your parent’s Will, and will likely make provision for you, if the existing circumstances bring about an unreasonable result for you when viewed objectively.
What will the court decide in my case?
It is difficult to say. The court will consider the applicable principles carefully. However, here are some examples of circumstances where the “adult child” was successful: –
- Where the child was devoted to the parent, living with him/her and doing everything for him/her.
- Where the child was working in the parent’s business for less than fair commercial terms.
- Where the parent had some justifiably moral obligation to make provision for the child.
- Where the child does not have an earning capacity of his/her own.
- When the parent promised somebody other than the child that the child would benefit under the Will, in circumstances in which it would be unconscionable for him not to fulfil the promise.
- When the parent actively encouraged the child to believe that he/she would benefit, and that the child acted to his/her own disadvantage as a result of that encouragement.
- When the parent was already providing financial maintenance to the child immediately before death.
If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by your parent’s Will, contact us to discuss matters further.