At the start of 2022, The Times published an article entitled “It’s OK that my sister will inherit more from our parents”. The article referred to a survey carried out by Netwealth, a wealth manager, which found that only 53% of parents plan on splitting their remaining wealth evenly among their children when they die. The main reasons for parents not dividing their wealth equally between their children was either because they had already provided significant financial support to one child over the other/s, or they felt that their children had differing financial needs/responsibilities and wanted to provide greater financial support to those that required it.
In contrast to many of our European counterparts, in England we are able to leave our estate to whomever we chose, without any legal obligation to provide for certain family members. This is referred to as ‘testamentary freedom’. However, the reality of testamentary freedom is that it can result in a rising number of beneficiaries who are disappointed by the inheritance they receive from a deceased individual’s estate, or the lack thereof, and so make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”).
In order to bring a claim under the 1975 Act, a claimant, other than a spouse, must show that the Will does not make ‘reasonable financial provision’ for their maintenance. Only certain categories of individuals can bring a claim under the 1975 Act, and one of these categories is the children of the testator. A claim made by a minor child can usually be straightforward to prove given that it is likely that the testator, as a parent, had an obligation to maintain the child at the time of their death. However, establishing a claim as an adult child can be much trickier. An adult child is typically financially independent from their parents and proving the deceased had a responsibility to maintain the adult children can be more challenging.
Every case turns on its facts and there are multiple factors to consider in a 1975 Act claim, such as the financial needs and resources of the claimant and other beneficiaries, the size and nature of the estate, whether the claimant or any other beneficiaries suffers from any physical or mental condition and any other matter which is relevant to the claim.
If you are concerned about the terms of a Will or have received a challenge from a disappointed beneficiary, please contact Tiggy Hawkesworth or another member of our Contentious Probate team on 020 7091 2814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The above is accurate as at 13 January 2022. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.