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Access Legal success, but disputing a will remains difficult for adult children

by Access Legal

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A mother aged 70 died leaving nearly £490,000 to two charities and nothing to her daughter and five grandchildren.

The recent case of H v Mitson shows how difficult it can be for adult children to dispute a will made by parents who disinherit them.

The daughter claimed she had not received reasonable provision from her mother's will. The court decided to award her £50,000, but she appealed, arguing that she should receive a higher amount due to her financial circumstances.

Although the daughter was in financial need, the Court of Appeal looked at other factors. The court put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the daughter did not expect to receive anything under her mother's will as they had been estranged for many years.

The Court of Appeal therefore felt that the daughter could not have been disappointed and awarded the whole estate to the two charities. The daughter received nothing.

This goes against a run of recent cases where adult children have been successful in claiming from an estate of a parent, and shows that each case must be judged on its own facts.

In 2009, Access Legal dealt with a successful claim made by an adult daughter against the estate of her estranged father.

Even though the daughter's financial circumstances were sufficient, her father had continued to send her money at Christmas and she had come to rely on this.

The beneficiaries of the father's will initially refused the daughter's claim for financial provision from the estate, but later agreed to pay her one quarter of the estate after they heard evidence that it was the father's bad behaviour that had caused the estrangement.

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