Will my stepmother inherit my father’s estate? We look at one of the most common causes of family inheritance disputes
Widowed stepmothers are frequently the subject of calls to our inheritance dispute helpline.
When their husband dies they will inherit any property held as ‘joint tenants’ automatically and often be the main beneficiary of his will. If there was no will, then they will be entitled to inherit a major part of the estate under the intestacy rules.
Perhaps the most frequent scenario is the one we have described elsewhere as ‘the Cinderella dilemma’. This typically involves the stepmother inheriting from her late husband’s estate and then favouring her own biological children over her stepchildren in her own will.
Feelings understandably run high in these cases. The stepchildren feel particularly aggrieved when the stepmother’s estate comprises assets that originated from their own biological parents.
It is not uncommon in these cases for the stepmother to revoke an earlier ‘mirror’ will made while her husband (the father of her stepchildren) was still alive, and make a new will in favour of her own flesh and blood.
We regularly deal with disputes that arise when a widowed stepmother disinherits her stepchildren in this way. There are a number of different approaches that can be taken in these cases. We have for instance succeeded in having a stepmother’s will declared invalid, and you can read about one such case here. In other cases we have made claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act. The Inheritance Act allows children to make a claim against a parents estate for financial provision and this specifically includes stepchildren who can satisfy the definition of a ‘child of the family’.
So, if you have been wondering, ‘Will my stepmother inherit my father’s estate?’ and feel that you have lost out on an inheritance that was rightfully yours then call our free legal helpline for an assessment and details of no win, no fee funding.