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Can you really decide who inherits your estate?

View profile for Claire Read
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In the UK we have what is called testamentary freedom.  This means we can leave our money and estate to whomever we wish (most European countries don’t allow this and a proportion (if not all) pass in accordance with set rules and pass to blood relations) but in a recent case where a man excluded his 3 children from receiving anything, a court has ruled that £30,000 from his £240,000 estate should pass to one of his children because she wishes to undertake a veterinary course. 

In the UK, the law allows children to make a claim upon an estate if provision has not been made for them.  As to whether the court will order maintenance is a question of fact and as such it can be very difficult to advise because circumstances may change from writing the will to the date of death. 

In this case, the deceased was estranged from his children, but there was evidence that the daughter had tried to reconcile with her father and the court took this into account.  Generally, it is still difficult for adult children to make a claim for maintenance, but the first stage is to ensure that a will is made because without one, the rules set down by law will apply and your wishes will definitely not be followed!  

Whilst no professional worth their salt can give a guarantee that a claim will not be made, we can offer expert guidance on all aspects not only because we are specialists in wills and probate, but because we also have a specialist contentious probate team that we work closely with.

Claire Read is based at our Chelmsford office and can be reached on 01245 453835 or email