Q. My husband and I have been married well over 20 years and we both have adult children from previous marriages. These children were adults when we married but husband’s family has caused a lot of heartache over our marriage, even to the extent that his mother gave two-thirds of his share of her estate to his children. We have had no communication with them for years and he has not included them in his will and has included a letter with his will stating the reasons for his decision. The question is, can these children still make any claim on his estate?
A. Without beating about the bush, the answer is, yes, they can.
The law does not require you to provide for your children. However, the law in this country also prescribes a limited group of people who can challenge a will, either because they haven’t been given anything or they haven’t been given enough. One of those eligible groups are children.
You cannot prevent them from challenging but you can attempt to limit their prospects of success by doing something like your husband has already done – a letter setting out why he has excluded those children. We lawyers call such documents a ‘statement of wishes’ and it can help. Of course, it’s important that this letter addresses all the relevant issues and some professional advice on this might also help.
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