Think carefully before you cut out the kids!
Thursday 6th August 2015
The Court of Appeal has recently awarded a daughter £143,000 plus an option to receive a further £20,000 from her mother’s estate which was worth £486,000 despite the fact that they had been estranged from one another for some 26 years prior to the mother’s death. The Courts originally awarded £50,000 to the daughter but the Court of Appeal more than tripled this figure. The daughter had brought up five children with her husband with a very small family income.
Surprising perhaps at first blush, but decisions in cases invariably turn on facts, and this one is no different. There are many interesting points in this decision, but for me the highlights are:
- Lack of expectancy to inherit does not necessarily mean you will be barred from inheriting;
- The effect on entitlement to state benefits by any award must be carefully considered;
- There should always be a rigorous analysis of each of the legal factors which the Court must take into account;
- The Court must consider the claimant’s earning capacity and financial obligations and resources;
- Be careful if you are leaving your estate to entities with whom you have had no prior connection.
Although you can still leave your estate to whomever you want, remember that if you are cutting family members or dependants out, make sure you speak to someone who can advise you properly about who could claim and how the Court might view the claim BEFORE you sign the will and forget about it!
Diana Smart is a partner at Gordons and the Head of Private Client. She can be contacted on 0113 227 0389 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.