Q: My mother had an affair with my father when she worked for him. When I was born, my father provided for my mother and me, even paying for my private education, on the understanding that my mother agreed not to say anything to his family. I am now two years into six years’ training to become a vet. Two months ago, my father had a sudden heart attack and died aged 56. We have since found out that he had not made any provision for us in his Will, which could mean me having to give up my training. Could I and/or my mother challenge his Will?
A: The Family Law Reform Act 1987 gives the same inheritance rights to illegitimate children as to legitimate children, whose parents or other blood relative die intestate. As your Father did not die intestate, but made a Will without provision for you, you could still make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. There are no age restrictions, so such a claim can be made by adult children as well as young children. The Court can award weekly or annual payments, normally to the end of full-time education for a child, or a lump sum.
In the case of your Mother, even if she was dependent upon your Father, which she would have to prove, she would not be able to bring a claim under any cohabitee rights, because they did not live together. However, as she appears to have received regular maintenance payments from your Father, she could claim for weekly or monthly payments or a lump sum under the Inheritance Act 1975. The right to make this type of application must be exercised within six months of probate being granted. You and your mother should therefore seek urgent legal advice.
(Article published 30/01/2017)