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Can I contest my parent's Will? 

Many people would presume that, when their parents die, they will receive most – if not all – of their Estate. A person’s Estate is usually made up of any property that they owned at the date of their death, their money in bank or savings accounts, stocks and investments that they held, less any liabilities, such as mortgages, loans, credit cards, and testamentary expenses. 
 
In some cases, a person may inherit less from their parents than what they had expected, or may not be listed in their Will at all. Other people will know exactly what they are going to receive, perhaps having been told by their parents during their lifetime or having dealt with their parent’s finances as their Attorney (you can read more about what an Attorney is on our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors’ page, here). 

Get in touch and talk to a wills and trusts expert today. 

MG Legal's expert private client solicitors are experienced in dealing with all aspects of wills, trusts, lasting powers of administration, probate matters and estate administration.  

Can I contest my parent’s Will? 

The short answer to this question is yes. Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, certain family members may be able to claim for reasonable financial provision from their parent's or relatives Estate. If you feel that you should have been provided for by your parents out of their Estate, and should have been included in their Will, then this may be an option for you. 

Who can claim for reasonable financial provision through contesting a Will? 

Generally speaking, anybody who was a close relative of the deceased person at one point in their life, or was a non-relative who was financially dependant on them in any way, can claim for reasonable financial provision to be paid out to them from the Estate. 
 
This includes, but is not limited to: 
 
Child or children of the deceased 
The spouse or civil partner of the deceased, regardless of whether or not they had separated at the time they passed away 
A former spouse of civil partner of the deceased, provided that they have not entered into a new marriage or civil partnership since the split 
Somebody who has been treated as a child of the deceased throughout their life, despite not being related, such as a long-term stepchild 
Somebody who was otherwise financially dependant on the deceased in any way 

Will I receive reasonable financial provision? 

Every single family situation, and every claim for reasonable finical provision or contesting of any Will, is different. Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, everybody who is eligible is able to make an application for reasonable financial provision to be paid out from the deceased person’s Estate. However, there is no guarantee that the application will be accepted. 
 
Through the process, the court assessed each application individually, based off a number of different factors. 
 
These include, but are not limited to: 
 
The nature and strength of the relationship shared between the claimant and the deceased 
Whether or not the deceased held any financial duties or obligations to the claimant, whether official or unofficial 
The financial situation and needs of the claimant 
The financial situation and needs of the other beneficiaries who are set to receive a portion of the Estate through the official written Will 

How do I apply for reasonable financial provision from a Will? 

If you have been promised a gift or amount of money in the Will of a lost loved one, and have now found out that they have not fulfilled this promise, leaving you less than expected, or nothing at all, in their Will, then you could wish to contest the Will and apply to claim for reasonable financial provision. 
 
Our Wills and Probate team here at MG Legal would always advise that, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding your loved one’s promises during their lifetime, you cannot necessarily rely on these when they have passed away. 
 
If you find yourself in this position, you must act within six months of the date at which the grant of probate takes place. Because of this, you should get in touch with a specialist Wills and Probate solicitor as soon as possible to begin the process. 
 
If you want to find out whether you are entitled to make a claim against your parent’s Estate, our team can discuss this with you. Give us a call at your local office (Lancaster – 01524 581 306, Garstang – 01995 602 129 or Longridge, Preston – 01772 783 314), or contact us online here, to have an initial chat and find out where you legally stand. 
 
If you decide to go ahead with the process, and contest the Will, your designated Wills and Probate solicitor will get the ball rolling the same day, and begin working on your claim. They will take care of everything, allowing you to simply fill out the necessary paperwork that your Solicitor sends to you, get it back to us, and let us handle the rest. 

Can I protect my inheritance for my children? 

Alternatively, if you want to ensure that your children receive a share of your Estate after you’ve died, you will need to discuss making a Will with the relevant provisions. If your Will is not drafted to protect the inheritance for your children (for example, if the bulk of your Estate is being left to a surviving spouse or partner), they may – as highlighted by the case above – not receive anything whatsoever. 
 
Our team of Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors can advise you on the different options that are available to you when making provisions for your children, and how this would affect your Estate. 
 
Contact our team online, here, for a call back within one working hour. 

A Financial Provision Case Study: 

The facts of the case: 

Colin Seviour passed away in 2016, leaving his blended family (i.e. his wife, and her stepchildren – Colin’s children) arguing over arrangements such as Mr Seviour’s funeral. Mr Seviour had left his entire Estate, worth £268,000, to his wife, Maria Seviour. 
 
The Court was informed of how Mr Seviour was given advice about the options of leaving his Estate in Trust, to protect his inheritance for his children. However, as they were financially stable, he had made the decision to leave everything to Maria, an NHS worker. 
 
Due to the deteriorating relationship between the stepmother and the children, Maria made a decision to amend her Will, excluding all of her stepchildren from benefitting from her Estate. 
 
Subsequently, one of Mr Seviour’s children, Carly Shapton, brought a case against her father’s Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, applying to be granted £75,000.00 of the Estate. Mrs Shapton claimed that she needed this money to help fund a larger home purchase for her and her two children, to allow them to each have a bedroom of their own, and to allow her partner to have office space in their house. 

The Court’s decision: 

Having considered all of the facts of the matter, the Court turned to considering Mrs Shapton’s personal circumstances, discovering that she and her family were able to afford regular skiing holidays, other holidays abroad, had a healthy income and a company car. 
 
The Court therefore dismissed Mrs Shapton’s claim as it became ‘perfectly clear’ that the family had a high combined income, which was more than adequate to meet their day-to-day needs. Therefore, as they could provide for themselves, Mrs Shapton had no claim under the 1975 Inheritance Act. 
 
The Court held that Ms Seviour’s updated Will was valid, and the provisions would stand. 

What happened next for Mrs Shapton? 

Well, as her case was dismissed, Mrs Shapton was ordered to pay costs, which amounted to in excess of £50,000. So, not only was she not entitled to receive any funds from her father’s Estate, but her High Court battle also ended up leaving her over £50,000 out of pocket. 
With a no-nonsense, hassle-free approach, our friendly team are experienced in drafting Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts, and Deputyship Applications, as well as in dealing with the administration of estates and obtaining Grants of Probate. 
 
In an increasingly impersonal market, MG Legal's friendly, expert team provide sound legal advice and all at an affordable fixed cost. 
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