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Posted 15 January 2018
by Martin Laver

Cutting Children Out of Your Will

The press (the Telegraph for example here) are reporting that Lady Lucan has left her estate entirely to Shelter, the homeless charity and has left nothing to her adult children.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 can interfere with the wishes of someone where the will does not make reasonable provision for dependants.

Whilst the Inheritance Act was never particularly intended to be used regularly by adult children, no age limit was ever put on the application of the Act – intentionally.  So adult children can bring Inheritance Act claims.

Some recent cases have highlighted these issues in claims by adult children and, additionally, claims where the estate is left to charity at the expense of estranged children.  Most notably, Ilott –v- Mitson which made its way all the way to the Supreme Court and the subsequent case including Nahajec –v- Fowle.

So is Lady Lucan’s estate liable to challenge by the children?

Much depends on the facts but it is probably unlikely.  The reports are that Lady Lucan estranged herself from her 3 children in the 1980s.  Since then she has apparently provided no financial support to them.  Her children are grown up and, by all accounts, self-sufficient.

The essential issue is whether the claimants (the children) are in need of additional support for their maintenance.  A will challenge under the Inheritance Act by adult claimants will usually not be successful if the claimants are financially secure even if the estate is substantial and the reasons for cutting the family members out are questionable.

Additionally, the recent cases have confirmed a person’s right to do what they want with their property after they have gone, unless it creates a clear unfairness towards a dependant.

Other claims may exist and if you are interested in finding out more, please contact our specialists on 01392 207020.

We offer advice on all types of will and probate disputes, including a free initial consultation, and the team is led by a partner who is also a member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). If you have any questions regarding this matter, then please contact our experienced team of will and probate solicitors.

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About the author

Martin Laver

Partner and Solicitor

Partner in the commercial litigation team specialising in disputed trusts and Wills