Inheritance Act Claims by adult children

09/07/2021

The case of Miles v Shearer was back in the High Court in July 2021. The adult daughters of Tony Shearer sought permission to appeal the decision of the trial Judge given in April 2021 that ruled they were not entitled to any provision from their late father’s estate.

The daughters had brought a claim against their step-mother who had inherited their father’s estate pursuant to the terms of his Will. At the original trial the step-mother had given evidence that her husband had said that he did not always enjoy seeing his daughters because he knew the encounter would end in a request for money which he found distasteful. Her evidence was also that the daughters referred to their father as “the cheque book”. The Judge accepted this evidence.

Financial obligations to adult children

Although the father had financially supported the daughters into their young adulthood the Judge found that the father had not been prepared to offer further financial assistance to his daughters after gifts that were made in 2008.

The Judge concluded that the father did not have any obligations or responsibilities to either daughter as at the date of his death.

There is no legal obligation on a parent to support adult children. A claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 can be made however where reasonable financial provision has not been made for an adult child whether by the deceased’s Will or under the intestacy rules. A claim should not be considered on the question of whether or not the deceased was morally right or wrong in the way that they may have disposed of their estate. The Act requires an objective assessment of financial provision and answering the question of whether reasonable financial provision has not been made.

Judgment 

In this case the Judge found that the Claimants were both adult children who had lived their own lives and made their own lifestyle decisions without any further financial assistance from their father after 2008 and the lifestyle choices made by the daughters were not dependent on any expectation of financial benefit. The Judge found that neither daughter could establish a need for maintenance from the Estate.

Each case turns on its facts. Adult children’s claims can be difficult to pursue. The Court will look at all the circumstances of all Claimants and the beneficiaries of the Estate including financial resources and needs.

An application under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 must be made within 6 months of the Grant of Probate therefore legal advice should be sought immediately if you believe you may have a claim.

More information

To discuss this further, please contact our Contested Wills & Probate Team here.   

This article was written by Catherine Loadman, Partner in our Contested Wills & Probate Team. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of July 2021.

09/07/2021

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