Inheritance Disputes

Parents can cut children out of their wills?

The Law Reform Commission proposes changes to the Succession Law in Ireland.

  • The idea of a “moral duty” to leave part of your estate to your children may be changed so that a parent merely has a duty to make “proper provision” for their children.
  • Under the current legislation (Succession Act 1965) any child who feels hard done by in their parents will can make an application to the court under Section 117 of that Act complaining that the parent has failed in their moral duty to that child. It is always difficult to advise on this entitlement as it is a grey area being defined by “moral duty”. This duty is determined by a judge taking into account the means of the parent and the means of the child. The age of the child is not necessarily relevant and a child of any age can make an application under this provision.
  • Under the new proposals, any child or offspring over the age of 18 years or over 23 years in full time education would have been considered to have already been provided for.

There are three exceptions for inheritance disputes:

  • 1. If the child has particular financial need arising from health or mental ability.
  • 2. The estate contains items of particular sentimental value to the adult child.
  • 3. Where the adult child has provided care and support for the deceased parent.
  • This proposal may end the idea that children are entitled to an inheritance and may to some extent reflect that people are having fewer children and parents are living longer and need their funds to support themselves
  • If adopted, the proposal would have the potential to reduce the number of spurious challenges to wills.

Authors: Michelle Collier & John Gaynor

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