Could Sir Bruce Forsyth’s children have made a claim against his £11.7m estate?

21st March 2022 Will Disputes

Best known for hosting The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and Strictly Come Dancing, Sir Bruce Forsyth passed away in 2017 at the age of 89.

The public were shocked to discover that Bruce had left none of his wealth to any of his 6 children and instead left the significant majority to his widow Lady Wilnelia Merced, according to reports. It is reported, however, that he at least left a sum of money for the benefit of his 9 grandchildren, who are due to inherit at the age of 21.

Despite Bruce not wanting to leave any money to his children, an interesting question is whether his children could have potentially brought a claim against his estate to seek a share of his wealth.

Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”)

The Act allows specific categories of people to claim financial provision from a deceased person’s estate if that person’s Will, or the Intestacy Rules where there is no Will, fails to make reasonable financial provision for them. Section 1(1)(c) of the Act permits any child of the deceased to make a claim against their estate.

Bruce’s children could potentially have brought a claim on the basis that their late father’s Will failed to make such financial provision as it would be reasonable for them to receive for their maintenance, at whatever standard of living is deemed to be appropriate.

To determine whether a claim will be successful, the Court will consider a number of factors:

(a)  The financial resources and financial needs which the applicant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(b)  The financial resources and financial needs which any other applicant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(c)   The financial resources and financial needs which any beneficiary of the deceased’s estate has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(d)  Any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards any applicant for an order or towards any beneficiary of the deceased’s estate;

(e)  The size and nature of the deceased’s net estate;

(f)    Any physical or mental disability of any applicant for an order or any beneficiary of the deceased’s estate;

(g)  Any other matter, including the conduct of the applicant or any other person, which in the circumstances of the case is considered relevant by the court.

For example, had one of Bruce’s children been in financial difficulties or had they been dependant on him during his lifetime then they may have been successful in a claim. If they were financially independent, then it is a lot less likely that they would have been successful.  It is not uncommon these days for such claims to be brought when children, for example, are excluded from a Will given the bad feeling it can create and because some people feel they are somehow entitled to a parent’s estate after their death. It may be that Bruce gave a sufficient amount of money to his children in his lifetime, such that they did not feel a claim was warranted or would not be successful or perhaps he spoke about his wishes and intentions to his family, which meant that it did not come as a surprise when they were excluded.

If you have been excluded from a loved one’s Will, or have been excluded by virtue of them passing away without a Will, then our team of specialist contentious probate lawyers can assist you. You can make contact with them to discuss the merits of your potential claim by calling 0345 241 5305 or completing the form found on this page.​​​​​​

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Alison Parry is a Partner located in Manchester in our Will and Trust Disputes department

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Travis Coulson is a Trainee Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Trainee Solicitors department

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