It is not uncommon nowadays for many families and children to have step-parents, and live with them, for a variety of reasons. If you are a step-child who is very close to their step-parent and have considered them as good as your biological parent for the entirety of your life, it can be very upsetting to learn that they may have left you out of their will, or else not given you what you feel you are owed by them.
However, it may be an area of uncertainty whether you have the right to contest the will of a step-parent when you are not biologically their child. Complicated family setups which do not operate on blood relatives alone can make the process very difficult.
That’s why, at The Inheritance Experts, we’re dedicated to helping you in these circumstances, and are here to advise the steps to take when the need for contesting a step-parents will arises.
Consider the Circumstances Surrounding the Drawing Up of the Will
Firstly, a will needs to have been made by an individual who has sound mental capacity to do so. Therefore, your first step may be to evaluate your step-parents mental state during the time they wrote the will, and deduce whether they were of sound mind to do so. Where it can be very difficult to prove mental incapacity regarding the formulation of wills, it’s a good starting point if you do believe that your step-parent may not have had the necessary mental capacity to distribute their assets accordingly.
This also applies if you may believe that your step-parent, despite of sound mind, may have been influenced unfairly by another during the writing of the will.
Consider Your Legal Right
Where your legal rights are not as profound as blood relatives or direct children, you do have the legal right to contest the will of a step-parent if any of the following applies to you:
- Your step-parent made a firm promise to you that you would receive a certain asset in their will, but this agreement has not been accounted for in their Last Will and Testament
- You once depended financially on your step-parent – perhaps you continued living with them after your biological mother or father passed away or moved on, or they were the sole financial providers – but these financial expectations have not been covered in the will
What matters is the ability to establish your position, and prove that you were financially dependant on the step-parent in question, and therefore may be entitled to fair inheritance.
Seek Legal Advice
To fully understand whether your circumstances merit the need for a will contesting, you should seek sound legal advice. Factors to be considered by a legal representative – and later by the court, should the will contesting go ahead – include: how close you were to the deceased; the extent to which you were supported by the deceased, and the age you were when the step-parent joined the family.
If you are unsure whether your circumstances apply, then don’t hesitate to contact us.