parent partner inheritance

The number of claims being made by a disinherited adult child against a parent’s estate are increasing, and this correlates with the number of individuals cohabiting with new partners or marrying later in life.

These disputes are often deeply upsetting for all involved and more often than not, can be avoided.

When your parent meets someone new

At first, adult children are usually relieved when a parent meets someone new, knowing that they have found someone for times of need and companionship in later life. However, such a situation can also result in perfectly natural concerns about what will happen should the parent pass away, particularly if the new partner moves into the adult child’s ‘family home’.

What does the law currently say?

We are frequently contacted by adult children who are concerned their parent is entering into a new relationship without putting in place any measures to protect the ‘family home’, other assets and in turn, their family’s inheritance.

If the parent marries their new partner and dies before them, and no new Will was made by the parent after they married, this can result in any existing Will they had made before marriage being revoked. In such circumstance the ‘new’ partner could inherit all or some of the ‘family home’.

If the parent and the new partner remain unmarried, the legal position will be very different. However, as there is currently no legislation in England and Wales which governs the rights of cohabiting unmarried couples, any disputes between a surviving ‘new’ partner and the deceased parent’s estate are notoriously unpredictable and can be extremely expensive to resolve.

Before they start cohabiting with or marry their new partner, it is important that your parent seeks legal advice so they can put in place mechanisms to protect their assets and avoid any disputes arising at a later date.

Providing clarity to all concerned is often a means of promoting a healthy relationship between all family members and can avoid bitter disputes and distress after someone passes away.

How your parent can protect themselves and your inheritance

It is vital that your parent is fully informed of the consequences marriage will have to their plans for their estate and if unmarried, the possible claims a cohabitee could make against their estate on their death. Once they have this information, a suitably qualified legal advisor can assist them in taking steps to protect their estate and ensure that any inheritance is received by those they want it to be received by.

Such steps could include a parent making up to date Wills and entering into a Cohabitation or Living Together Agreement with their new partner (if unmarried).

If you would like advice on such claims and how these may impact the division of your parent’s assets should they pass away, please get in touch.