In recent interviews this week Sir Elton John has made a very public announcement that he only intends on leaving a very small amount of his £200m fortune to his two children Zachary and Elijah. His reasons for this appear to be very grounded and sensible to most, as he wants them to know the true value of money, and instil an ethos of hard work in them as they grow into adulthood.
However, whilst his decision may be praised by most people, in particular parents of children being brought up in privileged households, I have to wonder whether his children may be able to challenge this in the future.
Disputes over Wills and estates are on the increase and the current law generally does not allow a person to challenge a Will, just because it is unfair. Historically, a person’s wishes and intentions are taken into account, in particular if they have made a Will, and this is something that Sir Elton John will have done, and made clear his reasons behind it.
However, the now decade long court case of Illott v Mitson, showed an instance where the testator’s very clear intentions to disinherit her daughter, were completely overturned by the Court of Appeal, awarding her around 1/3 of her mother’s estate. The Will in this case left the estate to various charities, who have this week been granted permission to appeal in the Supreme Court, against this award.
This case has opened the doors to adult children being able to bring claims against their parents’ estates, even where their parent’s rationale was clear and apparently justifiable. This move away from a testator’s intentions, and more towards what is or is not fair, is a dramatic change in the landscape of inheritance dispute.
As a specialist in these types of cases, and member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists, I deal with a number of cases such as this one, on behalf of the person bringing the claim, or the estate defending the claim. As the case rumbles on, the landscape may alter again, and I await the outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the future, with interest.
If you wish to bring a claim against someone’s estate, it is important that you seek specialist legal advice as early as possible. The time limit for bringing some of these types of claim is very short, and you could miss out on your claim if you wait too long.
For a fixed fee of £79.95, you can have a 30 minute appointment with myself, either on the telephone, or face to face, depending on your preference. We will take some details from you before the appointment, and I will then discuss your case with you, and what your options are. If your case is something that we can then help you further with, we can then discuss your funding options with you. For cases like this, we can sometimes consider a “no win no fee” agreement, depending on the circumstances of your case.