A brief legal guide to the inheritance rights of children who aren’t adopted
Inheritance Act claims made by children
The Inheritance Act allows children to make a claim against their parent’s estate. This not only applies to biological children, but also enables claims to be made by anyone who was a ‘child of the family’. This includes both step-children and those who were treated as children without ever being formally adopted.
Who is a ‘child of the family’ under the Inheritance Act?
In 2014 the government updated the definition of a “child of the family” who is eligible to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act. Previously it had just applied to step-children whose biological parent was married to a step-parent, but it now also includes:-
- Children whose biological parent was not married, but was in a relationship with the ‘step-parent’;
- Step-children of a parent/step-parent who were no longer in a relationship at the time of the step-parent’s death;
- Biological children who have been adopted away to adoptive parents, but who still wish to claim against their biological parent’s estate; and
The new definition focuses on whether the deceased stood in the role of a parent and treated the claimant as a child of their family, regardless of the marriage status of the deceased or whether they were blood relations.
Helping modern families find justice
Although it often takes the law some time to catch up with the complexities of modern family relationships, the change in the definition of a ‘child of the family’ to create inheritance rights of children who aren’t adopted is a welcome recognition by government and the courts that a wider range of individuals should be entitled to claim under the Inheritance Act.
It is often the most vulnerable claimants who qualify to bring a claim as a ‘child of the family’ so the plugging of this particular gap in the law ensures these claimants can be protected and seek the justice they deserve by making a claim under the Inheritance Act.
However, it is important that children wishing to claim speak to a specialist inheritance solicitor as, sadly, some solicitors are still not familiar with the new definition and are not aware of the inheritance rights of children who aren’t adopted.
How we can help
For specialist guidance on the inheritance rights of children who aren’t adopted and whether you would be eligible to make a ‘child of the family’ claim under the Inheritance Act then call one of our specialist inheritance team on our free legal helpline of 0333 888 0404 or send details of your case to us at [email protected]