Mohammed Ahsan, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said the Supreme Court was currently hearing a case that could change the face of the law.
“The case should clarify the law on challenging wills on the grounds that they don’t make reasonable provision for the relatives left behind, and potentially this will make it much easier for adult children to make a claim on the inheritance they believe is rightfully theirs.” Mr Ahsan said the case was an appeal by a group of animal charities who wanted to overturn a Court of Appeal decision.
“The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a daughter who had been excluded from her mother’s will, after she left him with a boyfriend as a 17-year-old. The mother had initially left her £500,000 estate to charities including the Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the RSPCA.
“On appeal, the daughter who is now in her 50s, was awarded £143,000 to buy the rented home she was living in and an extra £20,000 for additional income.
“But now the charities have asked the court to consider whether the appeal court was wrong to overturn the decision and to allow the daughter to keep her state benefits.
“This case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to relatives who feel they have been unfairly treated – and we have seen a real increase in enquiries from people who feel they haven’t received what they’re entitled to.
“Whatever decision the court makes, at least their judgement will give us some clarity on how to interpret the Inheritance Act 1975 and it will set out some guidelines for when challenges are, or are not, appropriate.
“It should also set out the criteria you need to meet in order to disinherit your adult children to make sure your wishes are followed and to ensure your will is executed effectively.
“Losing a loved one is always a stressful and emotional time, and so disputes over a will are likely to make things even worse. Taking expert advice is crucial before you decide whether challenging a person’s wishes is the right approach, so don’t be hasty, and talk to a professional adviser to find out where you stand.”