My father died a widower without leaving a Will. I thought I was his only child but it appears he had two sons by a previous marriage who are making a claim against his Estate, which includes two properties. He had no contact with them in more than 40 years. Do they have a claim?
Unfortunately, your father died without making a Will and his spouse had predeceased him. In the absence of a Will he will be deemed to have died Intestate.
In an Intestacy assets will pass in accordance with the Intestacy Rules which is an attempt to anticipate what the deceased would have done had he made a Will. The order of beneficiaries entitled will dictate who is entitled to his Estate.
As he died a widower, but leaving children, then ALL of his children will share his Estate equally. Sadly, despite not having seen anything of his other children for over 40 years they are undoubtedly his children, just as you are. Therefore, all three of you will be entitled to share your father’s Estate equally.
In other words all three of you are entitled under the Intestacy Rules and his two sons need not necessarily make a claim against his Estate as they are absolutely entitled in any event.
This is different to two estranged sons who suddenly make a claim against an Estate where there may have been a Will leaving everything to you. In those circumstances their claim would not succeed unless they could show that they were dependants of your late father and, after no contact in 40 years, this would be impossible to prove.
It is examples such as this which emphasises the importance of making Wills – particularly if you have children by a previous marriage or previous relationship.
* Emyr Pierce is Managing Director of Emyr Pierce Solicitors in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, Western Mail Conveyancer of the Year, specialising in Domestic and Commercial Property. Contact www.emyrpierce.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org