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Challenging a Will

It used to be very hard to challenge a will and we look at a couple of recent cases which indicate how the courts are dealing with these matters at the moment.

Can I challenge a Will?

The Supreme Court case of Ilott v Blue Cross gave many adult offspring the idea that they can succeed in a 1975 Act claim based on their financial circumstances. It is not correct that the Ilott case has given rise to a 'rule' that 1975 Act claimants can now expect a share of the estate, either by judgment or by pressurising the defendant into settling.

Recent Case law – The Shapton Case

The recent case of Shapton v Seviour shows that adult offspring are increasingly bringing unmerited claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in the hope that the other party who inherited under a Will will settle out of court.

In the case, Mr Seviour's Will had left his entire estate to his terminally ill widow. Despite the estate's modest value of £268,000, Mr Seviour's adult daughter Carly Shapton argued she was entitled to a quarter of the estate.

Mrs Shapton and her husband were financially independent with a house of their own and reasonable incomes, but she had £20,000 of credit card debt. She claimed that this was evidence of her financial need although another possible motivation was her poor relationship with her step-mother Mrs Seviour.

The High Court dismissed Mrs Shapton's case as 'absolutely hopeless' and awarded costs of £50,000 against her.

What the [Shapton] decision illustrates is that very many of these cases should not be settled. Beneficiaries in a Will should not be pressurised into settling unmeritorious claims.

How Can We Help?

This is a complicated area of law and if you would like some guidance then please do not hesitate us at or 01444 235232.

Michaela is an approachable lawyer who is committed to maintaining integrity, quality and professionalism at every stage of the process.

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