When you have a child or you are a care giver for a minor it is extremely important that you prepare a Will. Not only to appoint a testamentary guardian, someone responsible for caring for them after your death, but also to make suitable financial provision for them under your Will.
When making your will, it is vital to bear in mind the responsibilities you owe to those who depend on you financially. In a case on point recently reviewed by Danielle Wane, the High Court came to the aid of a 12-year-old boy whose aunt treated him as if he were her own child throughout his life, but who bequeathed him nothing when she died.
The aunt stepped in to care for the boy and give him a home immediately after his birth. He called her ‘Mum’ and she maintained him financially until her death. In her will, which she signed the day before she died, she expressed a wish to make very significant financial provision for him and to fund his education.
The terms of her will, however, did not achieve that objective and, although she was a relatively wealthy woman with significant property assets, the boy was left with nothing. His plight prompted legal action to be taken on his behalf under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, seeking reasonable provision for him from his aunt’s estate.
Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that the reading of the aunt’s will had triggered a family dispute that caused a great deal of upset for a number of years. The lack of any inheritance had left the boy bereft of resources of his own and dependent on his aging father, who was not in paid employment and had a very limited income. That position was clearly contrary to the aunt’s wishes as expressed in her will. The Court concluded that the boy should receive a £50,000 payment from his aunt’s estate.
When a dependent child’s parent/ care giver dies without leaving a Will, the surviving parent of that child, would be responsible for applying for Probate. This can cause issues especially if the parents were no longer together. It is therefore extremely important to seek legal advice to prepare for the future to safeguard your wishes and to protect those you leave behind.
If you need advice regarding any aspect of inheritance law, we can help!