The Law Commission is currently considering changes to the law that would have the effect of preventing adult children from contesting their parent’s Will if they are left out of it by the parent.

Currently, adult children have the right to make an application under the Family Protection Act 1955 to challenge a deceased parent’s Will when they have been left out of the Will. There are currently laws in place that support a moral duty for a parent to provide for their children in their Will.

Many of the current laws involving inheriting from parents are old, complicated and the Law Commission says these laws have not kept pace with changes in family dynamics such as blended families, step-children and half siblings.  Judges currently are faced with difficult decisions as to whether an adult child should benefit from an Estate when they are not included by their parents. 

Currently there are three separate laws that can deal with Will challenges, being the Family Protection Act 1955, the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949 and part 8 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976. There are recommendations being considered for these to be consolidated into one law.

Another recommendation is that parties to certain disputes should be required to attempt to resolve matters through alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, before Court applications are accepted.

We will keep you informed of further developments as the Government considers the recommendations.