In these difficult economic times, many adult children rely on financial support from their parents more than ever. It can therefore come as a shock to many when they are excluded from the Will.
It may be that their parents feel that they have helped certain children out during their lifetime and therefore choose to favour their other children in their Will in order to even things out; or simply that they don’t feel they have had the support from their children. At first blush this seems perfectly reasonable and it is difficult to see why this would be challenged.
Excluding an adult child who is in financial need can leave them in a difficult situation with nowhere to turn to for financial support. This can be exacerbated by feelings that they have been badly let down by their parents, and even abandoned by them in favour of their sibling with whom they may share long-held grievances. Their only option may be the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”).
If you find yourself in this situation, the Act allows children to bring a claim against the estate for reasonable financial provision if the Will, or intestacy rules if there is no Will, have not provided them with this.
In order to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 you must demonstrate:
- you were a child of the Deceased and/or financially maintained by them;
- the Will or intestacy rules have not made reasonable financial provision for you; and
- you must demonstrate that you are in need.
The Act does not look at whether the Deceased was morally wrong to not provide for a child but focuses on the needs of the child and whether these needs have been met. You will therefore need to provide the Court with full disclosure of your income, savings and outgoings (and those of your spouse or partner) in order for the Court to make an assessment. In deciding whether reasonable financial provision has not been made, and if so, what that provision should be, the Court will consider a number of factors which include:
Although this article focuses on claims by children, claims under the Act are not limited to them. Applicants can also include the following:
- Civil partners
- Former spouses and civil partners
- Anyone treated as a child of the Deceased
- Cohabitants (often wrongly referred to as common law husband/wife),
- Anyone in a relationship and living with the deceased two years before their death
- Anyone who was financially dependent on them