Opera Singer Wins Share of Fortune After Contesting Will

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A High Court Judge recently ruled that despite being excluded from his late Father's will, a young opera singer is entitled to part of his Father's estate.

Estate Assignment
The singer was only 17 when his father died, had suffered an accident in 2008 and his mother never married his father. This background may have influenced the court. Under the law of England and Wales, we all have testamentary freedom, that is, you can leave your estate to whomever you please. However, there are certain ‘classes’ of people who can claim against the estate, if they feel that the will does not make ‘reasonable provision’ for them.

It is becoming more common for the courts to make awards to children, despite the fact that the deceased parent specifically did not wish them to benefit. One argument is that morally, a parent should provide for their child, but this is not consistent with testamentary freedom. If the trend continues, we will be moving towards a system where, if you do not provide for your child and they make a claim, the court will award them something and the costs to the estate of the legal action may well be greater than the amount awarded.

A Shift In Will Requirements

Some other legal systems around the world compel a parent to provide for their child, even if they are adult; are we moving towards this? If we are, is this a good thing? The counter argument is that children are not ‘entitled’ and the law should not intervene when a parent makes an informed decision as to who to dispose of their estate.

Generally speaking, up until recently, a will which is drafted by a solicitor, and includes details of those to be excluded and the reasons why, would be accepted. But clearly, that may no longer be the case. The solution is to make some mention in the will. In doing so, the person making the will demonstrates that they have considered the matter and have made what they consider to be, reasonable provision. Reasonable is always problematic as one man’s reasonable is another man’s wholly unreasonable. Going to court to resolve it is stressful, time-consuming and very expensive. Get the right advice in the first instance; it may not be a fool-proof method of protecting your estate, but it gives you a much better chance of a claim against the estate being successfully resisted.


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