Inheritance Act claims by adult children

Adult children do not have an automatic right to inherit from their parents.  However, they can make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the 1975 Act), to apply for financial provision if they can demonstrate the Will (or intestacy rules) do not make a reasonable financial provision for their maintenance. 

Case law in this area shows that the courts assess these claims on their individual facts. The well-known case of Illot  v  The Blue Cross & Others [2017] was a claim by a daughter who had been estranged from her mother and was successful in her maintenance claim in respect of her mother completely disinheriting her.  In contrast, in the case of Miles v Shearer [2021], the Claimants’ claim failed, as the court concluded that they had not successfully demonstrated the financial need for maintenance from their deceased father’s estate.

In summary, while adult children can claim under the 1975 Act, the prospects of their claim depend on several factors including their relationship with the deceased, their financial need, and if previous financial provision had been made during the deceased’s lifetime. 

Adult children who are excluded from a Will should seek professional advice in respect of the validity of the Will, i.e. that it fulfils the correct requirements and if there is any query as to incapacity or undue influence of the testator, and any potential means-based claim under the 1975 Act. 

Those considering excluding dependents from an inheritance should also seek advice from their private client solicitor about the potential consequences of doing so. Making that consideration at the time of the Will drafting may save the estate the legal costs of it being challenged. 

If you have any questions about this article please contact Geena Parsons, pictured below.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.