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Landmark Decision: Ability to Challenge a Parents' Will

Monday’s landmark decision in the Court of Appeal is a significant milestone, that could open the door to more claims from adult children challenging a parents’ Will on the basis that they have not been left reasonable financial provision. This represents a substantial change in the law and gives hope to those who had previously been unable to pursue such a claim where they considered the Will to be unreasonable or harsh.

It also raises an interesting question around the parental obligation and whether parents should provide for adult children. The Courts now seem open to a broader interpretation of the Will, in certain circumstances, looking to what would have been reasonable for the deceased to have left certain individuals, in this case, her child, rather than follow the deceased’s specified intentions, which appear unduly harsh.

This means children, certainly adult children, may no longer have to show that they were dependant on the deceased, merely that reasonable financial provision has not been made for them.

In future, those drafting Wills must ensure that they document the reason why certain individuals are not considered in a Will and, moreover, explain why another, in this case, a charity, should benefit instead. This will include setting out what connection the person making the Will has to the seemingly unconnected beneficiary.

At first blush, the decision appears unfair on those who have clearly stated to whom they wish to leave their estate. Whilst those wishes must remain paramount, this decision provides some comfort to those individuals who feel that they have been unfairly treated and provided for in a Will.

DWF’s Contentious Probate team have vast experience of handing these types of claims on behalf of individuals, beneficiaries and estates. With the aid of our litigation funding solution, dwf fundlit, we work with our clients in order to put in place a funding package which allows such claims to be pursued or defended. For further information contact Chris Gee or Daniel Williams.

To read the Judgment in full, please click here.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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Lee Norman

Partner

I advise a broad range of businesses and institutions on all aspects of their contractual and commercial disputes.

Joel Heap

Partner - National Head of Commercial Litigation

I am a leading commercial litigation specialist, heading up the National Commercial Litigation team.