I don’t want my son to inherit anything from my estate. How can I prevent him from making a claim after I die?

Writing a will allows you to communicate your wishes in the event of your death, meaning you can lay out the requests you have for your funeral and decide who inherits your assets, for example, your property, savings, and personal possessions.  

Some people may decide to leave nothing behind for their relatives, such as their children. This must be stated clearly in their will.

The example case study below follows Rosemary and James, who have approached an SFE solicitor, having decided to make changes to their will and leave assets to only one of their children.  

Rosemary and James are in their sixties and have two sons, David and Stephen. They have a good relationship with David, who lives nearby and frequently see him and their grandchildren.

Stephen moved away to Australia five years ago, and they haven’t seen him since, despite writing to him several times, asking him to get in touch. He wrote back three years later, saying that he wanted no further contact and asked them not to write to him again.

Since then, there has been no contact, and they’re not sure where he is. As a result, they want to cut Stephen out of their will and leave their whole estate to David. However, they’re worried that Stephen could make a claim against their estate after they die. 

Their SFE solicitor explains they are free to leave their estate however they wish. Although, the solicitor does explain that the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1974 gives certain people the right to make a claim if they feel the will does not provide for them as it should. 

As Rosemary and James’ son, Stephen is entitled to bring a claim to court if he wants to. The court will only award him what is reasonable for his maintenance and will look at the various circumstances when deciding whether to award him anything. The court will assess finances and the needs of both Stephen and David, taking into account the size and nature of the estate. If Stephen is financially comfortable, his claim would be less likely to succeed.

The solicitor advises Rosemary and James to write a letter in their own words to accompany the will, explaining their reasons behind the decision to exclude Stephen. The solicitor also suggests making a small gift to Stephen of a nominal amount in their will, perhaps with the proviso it won’t be paid if he challenges the will. This may give Stephen pause for thought before embarking on a claim and will indicate that his parents have given careful consideration to the contents of their will.

Although a claim can’t be entirely prevented, these steps will reduce the chances of a claim succeeding and may cause Stephen to think twice before resorting to the court.  

When planning for later life and laying out your wishes in a will, it’s always best to speak with a professional, such as an SFE solicitor, who will have built specialist experience in this area of law. You can find a local SFE solicitor here: https://sfe.legal/find-a-lawyer/

 

 

 

Ruth Nolan

Associate Director and solicitor in the Wills, Probate & Trusts team with Wallace Robinson

Ruth is a fully accredited member of SFE and treasurer for the Birmingham branch as well as a full member of STEP. 
Ruth Nolan qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and first joined Wallace Robinson & Morgan in 2005. 
In her free time Ruth enjoys playing singles and doubles tennis, walking her dog, spending time with the family and going on holiday.