Is an Estranged Child Entitled to Anything in My Estate?

Items found in a court of justice laying on the table

No family is perfect. At the most, many are downright turbulent. How does the court handle family tension, especially when an individual’s wishes for their estate are involved? The court would essentially try to find the right balance between these conflicting interests.

Of Wills and Estranged Children

The court respects the rights of a parent to do anything they want with their estate. However, this also enables children who were cut off from the will (or disinherited) to make a claim or obtain more provisions from the estate of a deceased parent. For example, the court could order payments for education, proper maintenance, or career advancement if the court deems that there’s a justifiable reason for doing so.

Estrangement could make the entire situation more complicated, especially if the parent is estranged from one, several, or all of the children, warns Connolly Suthers and other wills and estates lawyer in Townsville. Depending on the circumstances, there can be a decrease in the benefit of the estranged child or these could deny them entirely.

If an estranged child decides to contest your will, the court would take into account how the estrangement came about. This includes the child’s provision requirement from the estate to see if you have any moral duty — based on accepted community standards — to provide for your estranged child. In general, the court would look into the following:

1. The extent and nature of any responsibilities or obligations you owe to your estranged child.

2. The relationship between you and your estranged child, which includes the relationship’s duration and exact nature.

3. Your estranged child’s conduct and character following your death.

In addition, the court would likewise evaluate the cause of the estranged relationship to determine who’s at fault.

Although courts might consider estrangement a legitimate cause to decrease the provision your child could receive from your estate, they might disagree that it was a legitimate cause. To that end, consult a lawyer to help you reduce the likelihood of an estranged child contesting your will and help sway the court in your favour.