Case law: Court gives guidance on claims by illegitimate infants against their father's estate
Will-makers should ensure they keep their wills up-to-date if there are significant changes in circumstances, such as having illegitimate children, otherwise they risk expensive and upsetting claims against their estates.
This update was published in Legal Alert - September 2018
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A married man had two children with a woman who was not his wife. He started divorce proceedings against his wife, but died before they were concluded, leaving an estate worth £3.5m. The mother discovered he had left a will, but had not changed it to provide for the two children, who were three years and six months old respectively.
The mother claimed 'reasonable financial provision', seeking just over £848,000 for the children under legislation permitting family and dependents of the deceased, in certain circumstances, to make a claim against the estate on the basis that their will (or the intestacy rules if there is no will) does not make 'reasonable financial provision' for them.
Reasonable financial provision for children means the amount it is reasonable for them to receive as maintenance (ie, income). The test of reasonableness is objective, to be decided by the court.
Here, the court noted that there was little previous, specific guidance on claims by infant children, and set out useful guidelines. Ultimately, it awarded the children £386,000.
One lesson from this case is the need to review a will when new children are born to avoid expensive and upsetting claims for financial provision. Other reasons to review a will include:
- Deaths, adoptions, marriages, divorces, separations and family disputes
- Your estate increases significantly
- You start a business
- You acquire overseas property
- You want to support a particular cause or charity
- Tax or succession laws change - get your solicitor to run an eye over your Will every couple of years to ensure you know what has changed
- Will-makers should ensure they keep their will up-to-date if there are significant changes in their circumstances
Case ref: Ubbi & Anori (Minors) v Ubbi  EWHC 1396
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