“It’s my money so I can leave it to whoever I want to – can’t I?”
Everyone knows they should have a Will in place. It is one of those tasks that seems to always be on the to-do list. One of the more common reasons which prompts people into action is when there is someone who they DON’T want to inherit from their estate. And the answer to the above question is essentially “yes” but….
In England and Wales, an individual can leave their estate to whoever they choose. A parent is not obliged to include a child in their Will and there can be many reasons why this decision may be made, whether to exclude them entirely or provide them with a reduced share.
It is possible for disgruntled children to bring a claim against their parent’s estate in circumstances where their inheritance is not considered to be “reasonable” and we have previously warned clients of this in our article entitled “Inheritance Claims by Adult Children” but recent press coverage of Lady Tara Wellesley’s case might reassure parents that their expressed wishes will not easily be overturned.
Earl Cowley did not approve of his daughter’s lifestyle choices which resulted in them being estranged for nearly 30 years. Consequently, he left the bulk of his estate to other family members leaving a gift of £20,000 to Lady Tara. While such an amount may seem generous in the circumstances, it actually equated to just a 1.5% share of his total £1.3million estate. And the court decided that this was, in all the circumstances of the case, reasonable and that Lady Tara should not receive any more.
If you are thinking of making a Will it is essential that the document reflects what you want to happen and that future claims against your estate are considered with supporting documents prepared in the hope of avoiding any future complications which your chosen beneficiaries would have to deal with.