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Omitting a child from your Will? Make sure you seek professional advice.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic it has been reported that there has been a marked increase in claims brought against estates and a particular rise in claims brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

The pandemic brought with it family ‘bubbles’ and local lockdowns, both of which have had an impact on family relationships and we have seen a rise in children being omitted from the Wills of their parents.

There can be several valid reasons for excluding a child from your Will, not just estrangement. For example, the child may have received money from you already, they may not require any inheritance, or they could be in receipt of means-tested benefits you wish to protect. A child may be drug or alcohol dependent or may have marital difficulties you are concerned about. Finally, the mental or physical health of a child may mean you have concerns about them inheriting a large sum of money outright.

Whatever the reason, it is crucial you seek professional advice when considering excluding a child from your Will.

There could be alternative ways of benefitting your child, for example, through a trust structure and one of our professional advisers can set out your options.

If you wish to exclude your child completely, it is crucial you are aware that if a child believes they have not received reasonable financial provision from a parent’s Will, they can bring a claim against the estate in accordance with the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

Should a claim be brought, there are various factors the court takes into consideration, including the financial needs and resources of the child applicant and their financial dependency, if any, on the parent.

Having a robust and properly drafted Will in place can prevent, or at least reduce, the chance of a successful claim against your estate. We can advise on the steps to be taken to reduce the risk of a future claim by a disgruntled child and ensure an accompanying letter is prepared explaining the rationale for any decision.