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Case law: Adult child successfully claims ‘reasonable provision’ from father’s estate despite being disinherited by his Will

Will-makers need to consider carefully whether and how to exclude adult children from their wills, including whether to write an appropriate side letter, given the risk of the court overruling their wishes and awarding ‘reasonable financial provision’ for an adult child.

September 2017

This update was published in Legal Alert - September 2017

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

A father was estranged from his three daughters, by his own choice. When he died his Will left his £265k estate to a friend who was in financial difficulties. He left a letter explaining why he was excluding his daughters from his Will.

One of his daughters was employed, but she also had financial problems, including debts to pay day loan companies. She planned to train as a veterinary nurse, and claimed £59k from her father’s estate under laws which allow dependents to claim ‘reasonable provision’ from a deceased’s estate. It is usually very difficult for an independent adult to make a successful claim.

The £59k she asked the court for out of the estate was to pay off her debts, fund her course and exam fees, and provide money for living and travel expenses while training.

The Court agreed that the daughter should receive reasonable financial provision (it was not her fault that she was estranged from her father – it was because he was stubborn and intransigent). However, it only awarded her £30k to cover her living and travelling costs while she was training (taking into account her need to pay off her debts during that period).

The Court said that the estate should not have to pay exam and training fees because:

  • There was no evidence she had planned to take a veterinary course while her father was alive, and he would not have taken that into account (nor would she have expected him to) if he had decided to make provision for her in his Will
  • There was a possibility that she might never take the veterinary course

Despite the fact that the percentage of the estate payable to the daughter in this case was similar to that in a previous recent case (10 - 11%), the Court stressed that there was no ‘usual’ percentage in such cases. Each case was fact-sensitive.

Operative date

  • Now


  • Will-makers need to consider carefully whether and how to exclude their adult children from their Wills, including writing an appropriate side letter, given the risk of the court overruling the terms of their Will to make ‘reasonable financial provision’ for an adult child

Case law: Nahajec v Fowle [2017] EW Misc 11 CC

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.