In England and Wales, an adult is free to make a Will and leave their property to whoever they wish - provided that they have sufficient mental capacity to do so. This is known as testamentary freedom.
The problem with testamentary freedom is that sometimes people choose not to include, or leave very little provision in their Wills for, close family members or people who are reliant upon them. In such cases, the Courts in England and Wales can intervene if it is considered that the person who has made the will (also known as the ‘testator’) has not left reasonable financial provision for someone whom they should have done.
The highly publicised case of Illott v Mitson was an example of the Courts effectively finding that the deceased owed an obligation or responsibility to provide for somebody and they had failed to reasonably do so. In that case, the Court found that a daughter who had been excluded from her mother’s Will should receive a share of the estate, despite them having been estranged for a number of years.
Over the next few months, the Contentious Private Client Team will be writing a series of blogs considering claims under this Act, including who is entitled to bring one, how quickly a claim needs to be brought after a person has died and the costs associated with doing so.
We will start by considering who is able to bring a claim, so keep your eyes peeled for the first blog of the series.
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