Disowning Your Parents Can Be Expensive

Woman who disowned mother fails in claim on estate.

An interesting tale from the STEP website:

“A woman who wrote to her mother formally disowning her and wishing her dead has forfeited her right to a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 on her mother’s estate, the England and Wales High Court has ruled.

The late Mary Waters, mother of Patricia Wright and David Waters (now both in their sixties) executed her last will in January 2009, two years before her death. In it, she left her entire £138,000 estate to David Waters and his wife and children, apart from legacies to other relatives. It made no provision at all for Patricia Wright or her children and grandchildren.

After Waters’ death, Patricia Wright made two claims on her estate. One was a proprietary estoppel claim, to the effect that her parents (who were shopkeepers) promised her an inheritance, at least partially on the basis that she had worked unpaid in their shops when she was a young woman.

Judge Behrens rejected this claim on the basis that there was not enough evidence that Patricia Wright’s parents had made her clear representations that she could expect to rely on.

The other claim was a request for reasonable provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. In support of this, Wright cited the fact that she was the deceased’s daughter, that she had helped in her shop, that she now suffers from serious ill health, and that she is in need of money.”

So perhaps not the greatest of ideas to shoot yourself in the foot before launching a claim under the Inheritance Act, but if you are thinking of disowning your parents, for the rest of the story go here on to STEPs website. But on a serious note, disowning or ignoring anyone in your Last Will and testament is fraught with problems.  Many claims from people who you would not reasonably expect to be entitled do succeed – and you are not there to explain why.  Worse still, new Laws (2014) widen the net of potential claimants and greatly increase the scope for “try on” claims. But there are better options for the determined, as our Estate Planning team can advise you.   For professional advice, please get in touch.   There are many reasons why the wrong people may inherit instead of your family, and we have an ongoing service which can assist in keeping protection as high as possible.