Inheritance Act Claims by Children
Mick Jagger has suggested that the Rolling Stones’ back catalogue would be left to charity, as “[his] children don’t need $500m to live well”. Jagger has eight children, ranging from the ages of 52 at the oldest, to the youngest being 6.
These reports draw attention to the option for children in England and Wales to bring a claim against a parent’s estate due to lack of reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (The Act).
The purpose of the Act is to permit certain classes of people (including children) to make a claim against an estate if reasonable financial provision was not made for them under the terms of a Deceased’s Will, or if the estate passed via the rules of intestacy where there was no Will. Whilst the Act allows the spouse of the Deceased, or anyone being financially maintained by the Deceased prior to the death to make an application, this article will focus on child claimants (including adult children).
The Act also permits stepchildren or any family in which the deceased at any time stood in the role of a parent, which were treated as a child by the Deceased, to make a claim.
If a child is under the age of 18, or lacks capacity to litigate, the claim will need to be brought by the child’s ‘litigation friend’ on their behalf. A litigation friend could be a family member (so long as their interests do not conflict with the child’s interests) or a solicitor.
Reasonable Financial Provision
Any child (minor or adult) can bring a claim against the parent’s estate if reasonable financial provision was not made for them under the Will or intestacy. It is important to remember that the Court will take an objective view as to whether reasonable financial provision was made, as opposed to a subjective or moral view of the merits of the case.
What amounts to ‘reasonable financial provision’ will depend on the circumstances of each individual case, but in the case of a child claimant, the Court is limited to making such provision as is reasonably necessary for the maintenance of that child.
A claim under the Act must be brought within 6 months of the grant of probate or letters of administration, in the case of intestacy, being issued. It is possible, in some circumstances, to make an application to the Court to bring a claim ‘out of time’ if this deadline has passed.
It is possible for the Court to order a lump sum payment from the estate, deferred payments, or some other Order, such as an amount settled on trust for the claimant. The Order which is made will very much depend on the claimant child’s circumstances.