We are receiving numerous enquiries about challenging Wills.  Families and their interactions with each other are becoming increasingly complicated as there are many blended families and many parents who have entered into second or third relationships with “significant others”. 

These relationships can create difficulties when someone dies, particularly if a person dies with a Will that is not up to date (or no Will at all).

When you make a Will, you want the peace of mind that your property will go to the people you want it to go to.

You can leave immediate and close family members out of your Will, or recognise family members in unequal shares if there are good reasons for it, but the Will may still be challenged if those left out or inadequately provided for believe they should have received more.

In one case a deceased father had left his estate entirely to his surviving wife, the mother of his children. Their adult children argued that the deceased had failed in his moral obligations towards them, and that it was likely their mother would also fail to make provision for them.

This claim succeeded despite the fact that a Letter of Intent, provided with the Will, clarified that the couple shared a sincere belief that all children should provide for their own welfare.  The couple themselves had not accepted inheritances from their own parents as a result of that belief.

While the children were young the father worked long hours, and the mother’s mental illness had resulted in the children being placed in foster care.

The Court accepted evidence that the mother’s parenting “left a lot to be desired”.  She had inappropriately used physical discipline on her children, and continued to be emotionally manipulative and controlling, playing the children off against one another.

Throughout the children’s adulthood, the parents had refused to offer help and support through various difficult times – steadfast in the belief that parents should not provide support into adulthood.

The children’s view was that their difficult childhood had contributed to numerous problems in their adult lives.  While the mother was personally wealthy, many of the children were impoverished and suffering from health issues.

While the Court appears to increasingly acknowledge that a surviving spouse’s claim against an estate is generally paramount, it has clarified in many cases that was not an absolute rule. 

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.