Is a Stepchildren Entitled to Contest Their Parents Will

Are Stepchildren Entitled to Contest Their Parent’s Will?

The lawyer’s answer is “It Depends”.

There are two basic ways to challenge a Will – the first way is to say that the last Will is invalid – for example because the parent lacked testamentary capacity to make a Will when they made it. Sometimes people who make a Will have been subjected to undue influence from someone else.

These grounds can make a Will invalid – so if a stepchild was included in a previous Will, then they can make a claim under this ground – but not otherwise.

The other way to make a claim is to show that reasonable financial provision has not been made for that child. Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (as subsequently amended) Parliament gave rights to some people who were not actually biological children to make a claim.

Someone in a family in which the person who died stood in the role of a parent was treated by the person who died as a child of the family – can make a claim. This is somewhat of a vague and in precise definition – and each case tends to be treated on its own facts – but what it does mean in general is that if someone has been treated as a child in relation to a family then they are entitled to bring a claim.

Just because a person is entitled to bring a claim it does not automatically mean that the claim will be successful.

Parliament has said that Judges have to take into account a whole variety of other facts – such as the financial resources and needs of the person making a claim, the financial resources and needs of other applicants or beneficiaries, the size and nature of the estate and any physical or mental disabilities of any relevant person.

One of the issues that courts have to consider is any obligations and responsibility which the person who died had towards the child – and this can give great scope for flexibility to allow a claim to be made – particularly if a stepchild had a legitimate expectation of benefit.

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