Q: My girlfriend’s mother cut her off after we got together because she said I wasn’t good enough for her. Her mom said if she left me she would put her back in her Will but my girlfriend said I was more important than money. Now my girlfriend’s mom has died and it seems so unfair that everything has been left to charity when my girlfriend, who was an only child, did nothing wrong except fall in love with me.
We have been together for nine years, since we were 17, and we’re very happy even though we both have low paid jobs, live in a housing association flat with two young children to support and frequently struggle to make ends meet. Could my girlfriend contest the Will and would it cost a lot of money?
A: Even though your girlfriend’s mother seemingly made it very clear that she did not wish her daughter to benefit from her Will, your girlfriend could challenge the Will under the 1975 Inheritance Act. The Act allows a child, adult or otherwise, to apply for an order of the court if the deceased has not made ‘reasonable provision for their maintenance’. The fact that your girlfriend is living in relative poverty, compared to the standard of living she could enjoy had she inherited from her mother, may have a bearing on any decision made by a court to award in her favour.
There is no requirement in English law to make provision for any particular person or persons in a will. However, a landmark judgment a few years ago paved the way for disinherited children to challenge a Will under the Inheritance Act. The courts in such cases will take into consideration whether there is a valid connection to the benefactors before upholding the Will. Your girlfriend should seek advice from a solicitor immediately. Some firms offer a No-Win, No-fee funding arrangement.
Article September 2019