Can I Challenge My Parent’s Will?
Posted on 12th June 2020
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, or more, off their parents than what they had expected to. 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 in our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors’ blog, here.
Our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors in Lancaster and Preston have, on more than one occasion, been contacted by a person whose parent has not left them anything whatsoever in their Will. In one such case, the deceased parent had allegedly promised their child that they would receive compensation for money that was spent during their lifetime (through a family business), however, in their Will, there was no such gifts made.
Whilst it can seem frustrating for a person to be excluded from benefitting from their parent’s Estate, a recent High Court case has highlighted that, just because it’s your parent’s money, it doesn’t mean that you are automatically entitled to receive this when they die. Our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors have highlighted the case facts, below.
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 £50,000.00. 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 £50K out of pocket.
Can I contest my parent’s Will?
If you think that you should have been provided for by your parents out of their Estate, you should contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors in Lancaster or Preston to find out whether you can make a claim. You can email our team to firstname.lastname@example.org for a call back within one working hour, or you can contact your local office here.
Our team at MG Legal would always advise that, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding your parent’s promises during their lifetime, you cannot necessarily rely on these when they have passed away. In the case of Shapton, discussed above, her claim was not necessarily made on the basis of promises made to her by her father, however, Mrs Shapton still felt that her father should have considered her when he made his Will. As can be seen from the facts of the case, her father did not consider protecting the inheritance for his children, therefore leaving it up to his wife whether she decided to leave them any gifts.
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) to have an initial chat and find out where you legally stand.
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 expert 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.
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