Adult children making a claim against their parent’s estate - what you need to know
PUBLISHED: 15:32 19 August 2015 | UPDATED: 15:32 19 August 2015
In light of a very recent court decision, Lloyd Junor (Partner and Head of Contentious Trusts & Probate at Adams & Remers) explains the possibility of an adult child making a claim against their parent’s estate.
Did you know that an adult child can make a claim against their parent’s estate?
Where a parent dies, but leaves very little or no gift through their estate to their children a claim may well exist. Such claims are to provide ‘reasonable financial provision’: they do not seek to upset the Will itself, but to reorganise how the estate may be distributed by way of making greater provision to the applicant. The provision can be in many forms – be it a cash sum, a property or an interest in other assets.
When might such a claim be appropriate?
The key to any claim is the adult child’s particular financial circumstances since the purpose of any provision is to meet the child’s reasonable needs – this may be to help with immediate financial commitments (for example to pay off debts), for accommodation requirements or future expenditure. Indeed, it is not uncommon, especially with today’s higher property prices, for young adult children to be maintained by their parents with help for their housing. Adult children who are nearing retirement may be in a perilous financial position (say, due to a job loss) or they may have shortfalls in their pension provision. Retirees may be in need of assistance with anticipated care and accommodation costs. In addition, there can be particular medical conditions or other circumstances that give rise to a ‘need’ that warrants some further provision being made out of the estate.
Are there any other factors to consider?
Certainly, an adult child living independently and with sufficient resources of their own to meet their needs would disqualify them from making a claim. Other than that there is not much to prevent a claim. An estrangement between parent and child (which might typically be thought to be a reason for not being able to make a claim) is no bar, even when the circumstances in which the adult child has been left out of provision under the Will were explained by the deceased parent in their Will. It is also unnecessary to show any ‘special circumstances’ that might ordinarily invoke such a claim or some moral obligation on the part of the deceased owed to the child – each case will depend largely on an assessment of the adult child’s resources and particular circumstances. It is important to make a claim within 6 months of the Grant of Probate in the estate, after which a claim may be lost.
For all members of the family a claim against an estate brings forth strong emotions. Taking any action has to be considered carefully and undertaken tactfully, to minimise the inevitable upset that occurs and with a view to reaching a solution as early as possible.
It is also worth remembering that it is not only children (including adult children), who can claim provision, but also surviving spouses, dependants and cohabitees where they have needs and may feel they have been unjustly left out.
For further information or to discuss a claim contact Lloyd Junor at Adams & Remers, Trinity House, School Hill, Lewes, Sussex, BN7 2NN.