Can I cut my stepson out of my will?
I would like to update my will to leave the bulk of my estate to my own children, rather than my stepchildren. How do I ensure my wishes are carried out?
My stepson is profligate and has not contributed to the running of the family business over the 20 years that I have been married to his mother, yet has made it clear he expects a substantial inheritance. Should I attempt to have a frank conversation with him?
I am concerned that once I pass away, my stepson will challenge my new will and that my own children will be passed over unfairly, despite them having been essential to building my business. I have heard of something called “reasonable financial provision”. Is this something my stepson could invoke if I exclude him from my will?
“There is no cast iron way to prevent someone making a claim”, adds Molly Wills, Associate at Hunters Solicitors, “but there are steps that can be taken to try and minimise the chances of an application being successful.”
“First, as you suggest, it is worth attempting a frank conversation with your stepson, particularly given that he is expecting a substantial inheritance. By explaining your reasons for not benefiting him under your will, it will at least not come as a nasty surprise to him later. Managing his expectations may make him less likely to challenge the will.
You should also leave a side letter to your will explaining why you have not made any provision for him, and why you wish to benefit your children instead. It is worth mentioning their involvement in building your business as compared to that of your stepson. This will give the court the opportunity to consider your reasons when weighing up other factors.”
Find the full article in the Financial Times, behind a paywall, here.