Can stepchildren challenge a will?

Over the years, the parties who can challenge your will have been greatly expanded, and now include de facto partners, former spouses and some dependants, including grandchildren. However, despite the huge growth in blended families, there are still no general rights for stepchildren who are unfairly left out of wills.

Married couples usually have wills leaving everything to each other or, if the other has already died, leaving everything to the children. If they leave a spouse or child out of the will, this can be challenged under the Family Provision legislation, and a Court can award a fair share of the estate to the neglected spouse or child. However, this generally does not apply to stepchildren.

 

We were consulted by a client, whose parents separated many years ago. His father soon re-married and had another son. The father became wealthy and, when he died, he left everything to his second wife. Our client regarded this as quite natural, and did not seek legal advice, expecting that he and his half brother would eventually inherit the estate.

 

When the widow died, our client was shocked that she left everything to the half brother, and nothing but a few mementos to our client.

 

If our client had challenged the father’s will after his death, this would probably have led to a reasonable agreement with the widow, for our client to inherit on her death. However, it is now too late to challenge the father’s will, and our client has no rights under his stepmother’s will.

 For more information please contact Stephen Lynch.

 

 

 

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