Inheritance disputes following sexual abuse claims

Posted on: August 18th, 2017

It will surprise few that in families where there are allegations involving sexual abuse that Inheritance issues may arise.

These issues may not come to light for many years and often when the victims are then adult children.

If the deceased disinherits a child they have abused, which is sometimes seen as a final act of retribution for reporting them to the police, it is well-established that the abuse can be taken into account when considering an inheritance claim.

But what about where the abuser dies first and the surviving parent still cuts out the children who reported the abuse? That would seem unconscionable, but it’s was happened in the recent case of  Ball v Ball.

This case involved a family where three children made allegations of abuse and they were cut out of both parents Wills. The abuse was admitted, in relation to two of the claimants, but was denied for the third. The abuse had been known about by the family for a number of years and a reconciliation had been reached. That fell apart however many years later following a family argument. After that the Wills were then changed on the basis the Balls were upset that the reconciliation agreement had been broken and they felt false allegations were raised, despite some being admitted.

The court effectively held that the conduct of Mr Ball could not be visited of Mrs Ball and as such the claimants were treated no differently from another other adult child claimant. Following the Illott case those claims can now be difficult to pursue and in this case the claims were dismissed.

The decision of the face of it is harsh, but illustrates careful analysis of the facts and law is required to bring  Inheritance Act claims