Can I disinherit my kids in my will

Can I disinherit my kids in my Will?

This is a question that seems to be coming up more and more frequently with our clients at Isla Law. The short answer is yes, but in reality, it’s a lot more complicated than that!

There are many reasons why you may want to leave your children out of your Will. Perhaps you want to encourage them to be independent, maybe one child is significantly better off than another and you wish to provide more for those that need it, or perhaps you don’t have a good relationship with one of your children.

It’s important to bear in mind that there are a number of groups of people who could expect to inherit from you and these are listed in the Inheritance (provision for dependants) Act 1975 as follows:

  1. Your spouse or civil partner (or former spouse/CP if they’re still single)
  2. Your partner (if you have lived together as spouses for more than 2 years)
  3. Your children
  4. Any children you have treated like your own (including step-children, children for whom you are guardian)
  5. Someone who is being maintained by you (and this includes your partner if they’ve been living rent free in your home!)

If you choose to leave your children (or other dependant) out of your Will, they may be able to bring a claim against your estate. They can still do this even if you leave them a ‘token’ gift, if they feel like what you have left them isn’t reasonable. What is considered ‘reasonable’ depends on the size of your estate and the relationship you had with that person.

What can you do to safeguard against claims?

We would recommend you include a non-provision clause in your Will, which specifically names the person(s) you are leaving out and acknowledges that you are not providing for them. This ensures that this person cannot argue that you have simply forgotten about them.

You could choose to leave them a token gift of cash or a specific item. This may help mitigate potential claims if they know you provided something. This does not preclude them from bringing a claim, however.

We always strongly encourage clients to write a letter to the child(ren) that they are leaving out, which outlines in their own words why they are not providing for them. You should try to remove emotion from the letter and stick to the facts. This letter is then stored with the Will, and would only be given to that person/shared with the Court in the event that they do bring a claim again your estate.

For all of these reasons, disinheriting your children is a huge decision, and one that absolutely must not be taken lightly. It is also likely that your Will will cost more to prepare, since your legal advisor will have much more due diligence to do, to ensure their records are watertight, in case a claim is made in the future.

We strongly recommend that if you are considering leaving a child or other dependants out of your Will that you take professional legal advice. If you’d like to discuss this further with one of our team, please call us on 01622 934887.