You and Your Money
If you failed to do any of this, a claim could be made against your estate by a spouse, child, or dependant on the basis that you did not make adequate provision for the claimant’s proper maintenance, education, and advancement in life.
Depending on the jurisdiction, your children may now include adopted children and step children. Spouse may include your de facto and/or civil partner, in fact anyone (male or female) that you have “shacked up with” for say two years or more.
Again, depending on the jurisdiction, the claim may only be against your “estate” which does not include property held as joint tenants (e.g. often your home), insurance policies, superannuation and trusts.
Unless there are good reasons for the delay, a claim must be made within a certain time after your death e.g. 9 months.
The court will determine if you made adequate provision for a claimant taking into account all the circumstances including the applicant’s financial position, the size of your estate, the relationship that the claimant had with you (or the lack of it) and the other deserving people that you have left behind.
The court will not make an order in favour of claimants who have enough money of their own. This tends to be rare, especially in the case of children. Also, the court can bar undeserving claimants. Needy prodigal sons are in with a chance to get something, the stronger their need the more reprehensible their conduct must be before a court will disentitle them altogether.
Claimants who have persisted in an unreasonable claim especially where the estate is quite small can be ordered to pay costs.
The good news is that they must all wait until you are dead and that there is no need to rush.