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Published On: July 1, 2020 | Blog | 0 comments

I’m dealing with my parents’ estate and my estranged sibling is saying they want part of it. Will they be able to get anything?

The question of who can receive part of an estate will depend on whether or not the person who has passed away had a valid will in place at the time of the death.

Position if there is a valid will at the time of death

If the deceased had a valid will, the law dictates that the estate will be administered in line with their wishes, as set out in the will.  In limited circumstances, it will be possible for certain individuals to initiate legal proceedings, which if successful, can change the way that an estate is administered, including the individuals who will benefit from the estate.

The type of claim brought will depend on the circumstances involved, and the person attempting to bring the claim.  For an estranged child of the deceased, various claims may be available to them, including but not limited to challenging the validity of a will, or bringing a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. We have written about these types of claims, and the various criteria that any claimant must satisfy in previous blogs, such as here and here. However, if there is a will in place which does not leave anything to an estranged child, the child will not be able to receive anything from the estate, and against the wishes of other beneficiaries, without first bringing legal proceedings.

Position if there is no valid will at the time of death

If the deceased did not have a valid will at their time of death, the position of an estranged child will be quite different.  In the absence of a Will, the estate will be administered under the Intestacy Rules.  Under these Rules, the relatives of the deceased will be placed into a list of priority, to determine how the estate will be divided.  We have discussed these Rules in detail in our previous blog, found here.

The Rules do not consider the family relationships involved, and as such, no distinction will be made between a child who is estranged from the deceased and one who is not.  As such, if a parent has died without a will, and in the absence of a claim being brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, the estate will be dealt with under the Intestacy Rules, and all children, whether estranged or not, will receive an equal portion of the estate.

The solicitors in our Contentious Probate department have experience in defending these types of claims on behalf of administrators, executors and beneficiaries, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation with you further.

*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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16 thoughts on “I’m dealing with my parents’ estate and my estranged sibling is saying they want part of it. Will they be able to get anything?

  1. I would just like some advice really as my mother has passed away recently which my brother whom I do not have a relationship with any more, has yet to tell me. I found out through my son. There is no property or anything major that my mother owned though there are some belongings etc which hold sentimental value that I would really like that I am not sure I will get if left up to my brother. I am the only daughter and was always promised her rings etc. Unsure of a will or not and as we don not speak any longer not sure how to find out. Would appreciate some information or guidance on what to do if you are able to help, thank you in advance.

      1. My mom died some time ago, I am one of 5 children, 2 of my sisters dealt with everything ,they didn’t inform myself or my other sister that my mom had died , we found out through Facebook. When we asked them about the cremation they were very vague so we phoned the funeral company who told us they had been instructed not to give any details out .My 2 sisters emptied her flat of everything ,and kept all her money , my other sister and I had nothing at all ,we only just got to say goodbye to her ,is there anything we can do ?

        1. Hi Idriss, thanks for your comment. A member of the team will get in touch with you shortly to see if we are able to help. Kind Regards

  2. Hello

    I live abroad and found out a couple of weeks ago, from a cousin, that my estranged mother died last January. I have a half-sister, also estranged, who has not informed me of the death. Is there any way I can find out if there was a will at time of death, without contacting my half-sister? There are some photographs of me as a child I would like to have.

    Hope you can advise?


    1. Hi Adrian, thanks for your comment. A member of the team will get in touch with you shortly to see if we are able to help. Kind Regards

  3. I am executor to my parents will having lost both of them in a short time frame. There is an estranged brother of 20 years, his choice, has even changed his name by deed poll. When told about my dads passing his comment was – I didn’t know him anyway. Was offered the opportunity to come and see my mother before she passed in November also. He was written out the will 11 years ago.
    I’m told he’s still entitled to a share? Scottish law? Surely he wouldn’t have a grounds for contest with his actions?

    1. My sister passed away 2 weeks ago, can’t find a will. Her 3 daughters have been estranged for approx 30 years. My sister was adamant she was leaving everything to charity and didn’t want her daughters having anything due to way they have treated her over the years and when have refused to engage with her despite attempts over the years. I am trying to sort the estate and property. Question is, given the circumstances, do they have a right to a share of her estate? This is absolutely not what my sister would have wanted. I feel broken-hearted that I can’t follow her wishes and am unable to locate any will.

  4. My mother passed away ten years ago I was a seafarer in and out of the UK my mother passed away with cancer in March 2013 I never even seen the will shortly after the my mother’s death I got ill myself I don’t know what the will said or who was taken out of the will her estate was gone I was told it was gone I was kept in the dark I think I was hard done by it was all done and dusted before I got back from the sea I have a right to know why I was cut out of the will it was all done so secretly by my brother and two sisters surely I must have a right to know why I was off the will I know its been ten years that’s passed

  5. My neighbour whos is in her 80’s lost her father some years ago now and in the will her father left he made provision that she should be allowed to live in the house for the rest of her life and the house should not be sold until she had no need for it.
    Recently my neighbour has had her son staying as he had become homeless.
    My neighbour has been told by the executor of the will in writing that she is breaking the terms of the will which he says only allows her to live there in his opinion.
    My neighbor is absolutely terrifiedthat she will be evicted and her son has nowhere else to go right now. She is not sure of how she can deal with this issue. Can you help please?

  6. In situations concerning inheritance and estranged family members, the distribution of an estate depends on various factors, including the presence of a valid will. If a will exists, it typically dictates how assets are distributed. Without one, intestacy rules apply, ensuring equal distribution among all children, regardless of estrangement.

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