What are the legal rights of a disinherited child?
Our inheritance dispute helpline is regularly contacted by callers who have been disinherited by their parents and want to know what their legal rights are.
People are often surprised to learn that in the jurisdiction of England and Wales there is no legal obligation on a parent to make provision for their children in their Will. This position can be contrasted with the law in countries such as France which have a principle of forced heirship, meaning that children are entitled to a minimum share of the estate of their deceased parent. Even closer to home, the legal system in Scotland also guarantees inheritance rights to children.
However, while children in England and Wales have no automatic right to inherit from their parent’s estate, there are legal safeguards in place. Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, children are entitled to apply to court where their parent’s Will fails to make adequate financial provision for them.
Each claim made under the Inheritance Act is considered on its individual merits. Two important factors that are taken into account are the needs of the person who is making the claim and the value of the deceased’s estate. There is no age restriction on making a claim, which means that adult children as well as minors can apply under the Act. However, the courts are particularly vigilant in ensuring that children who are under the age of 18 or still in full time education are adequately provided for.
Another factor that the courts will consider is any disability that the applicant suffers from.
Inheritance claims are often made when the deceased’s child (or children) has been completely excluded from the Will. However, an Inheritance Act claim can also be made where the applicant has been included in the Will, but the value of the provision made for them is inadequate.
While grandchildren are not one of the specified classes of eligible claimants under the Inheritance Act, there are circumstances in which they too can make a claim and you can read about the inheritance rights of grandchildren here.
For further guidance on the legal rights of a disinherited child, a free review of your potential claim, and details of our No Win, No Fee. funding scheme, contact our free legal helpline.