AGM plans gone awry with re-introduced lockdown measures? Good news: saving provisions are now in place until 30 December 2020
Kadie Bennett, Solicitor, explores the potential pitfalls of inheritance upon the death of a parent where a parental order is not obtained following the birth of a child via a surrogacy arrangement, in this fictional case study.
Jennifer and Jillian (the intended parents) entered into a civil partnership some years ago and have now decided to have a child via a surrogacy arrangement with Katherine (the gestational mother). Jennifer and Jillian decide that it would be fairer for neither of them to be the child’s biological mother, so Katherine is inseminated using both a donor egg and donor sperm. Upon the child’s birth, Jennifer and Jillian are shocked to realise that they cannot obtain a parental order as neither of them are biologically related to the child.
Jennifer’s estate is worth approximately £300,000. Katherine is not married and has no other children; her family members are her mother and brother.
Jennifer and Jillian chose not to pursue any legal remedies. The child is in their care, and they live as a family unit.
Legally, Katherine would remain the mother of the child, and Jennifer and Jillian have no legal rights or responsibilities in relation to the child. If Katherine were to die intestate, the child’s inheritance entitlement would be considered under the intestacy provisions. On the other hand, if Jennifer or Jillian were to die intestate, the child would not be considered under the intestacy provisions.
Under the intestacy rules, as Katherine’s only child, her estate would pass to the child absolutely. This would mean that Katherine’s own mother would not receive anything and could lead to her bringing a claim against Katherine’s estate.
If Jennifer died (and she had no other children), her estate would pass to Jillian absolutely. If Jennifer had other children, Jillian would receive all of Jennifer’s personal chattels, a statutory legacy of £250,000 and half of the remaining estate. The children (but not the child born of the surrogacy arrangement) would receive the remaining half of the estate absolutely.
Jennifer and Jillian chose to adopt the child.
An adoption order, like a parental order, is transformative in nature. Jennifer and Jillian would, for all legal purposes, become the child’s parents and if either or both die intestate, the child would be considered under the intestacy rules. Upon the making of the adoption order, Katherine’s parental rights would end. If Katherine were to die intestate, the child would not be considered under the intestacy rules.
Under the intestacy rules, Katherine’s estate would pass to her mother absolutely. From Jennifer’s estate, Jillian would receive all of Jennifer’s personal chattels, a statutory legacy of £250,000 and half of the remaining estate. The child would receive the remaining half of the estate absolutely.
Whilst pregnant, Katherine has grown attached to the child. Following the birth, the child lives with Jennifer and Jillian and is allowed to spend time with Katherine on an informal, but regular, basis. However, upon applying to adopt the child, Katherine refuses to consent to the adoption and applies for a child arrangements order to formalise the contact arrangements. The court grants a child arrangements order for the child to remain living with Jennifer and Jillian and for the child to continue to spend time with Katherine.
In this scenario, Katherine would remain the legal mother of the child. Jennifer and Jillian, by virtue of the child arrangement order, would obtain parental responsibility. However, unlike a parental order or adoption order, a child arrangements order is not transformative in nature, and neither Jennifer nor Jillian would be legally recognised as the child’s parent.
As in scenario 1, if Katherine were to die intestate, the child would be considered under the intestacy provisions. Conversely, if Jennifer or Jillian were to die intestate, the child would not be considered under the intestacy provisions.
Whilst Jennifer and Jillian are prevented from applying for a parental order in the above case study (due to neither of them being biologically related to the child), even where there is a biological link between the intended parents and a child, problems can arise when trying to obtain parental orders. It is important that intended parents are not only aware of these problems, but also the effect and implications these situations have on a family unit when a parent dies intestate.
Without a formal order of the court, there may be unforeseen practical issues where a child may inherit under the intestacy rules when it wasn’t intended. Conversely, a child could find themselves disinherited from a parent’s estate under the intestacy rules because the legal relationships have not been properly considered.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the focus has been on shoring up existing delivery and, where possible, extending arrangements if it is not possible to re-procure.
The Prime Minister announced on Tuesday 22 September a new range of restrictions to protect us from the Covid crisis, some of which will apply to charities.
Following the end of the possession stay on 21 September, Helen Tucker & Rebecca Sembuuze from our housing litigation team discuss the most recent guidance, priority cases and what to expect in court.
Covid-19 has resulted, on the whole, in a marked co-operation between contracting authorities and their suppliers as everybody focuses on maintaining delivery as far as possible.
Employment Tribunal rules in favour of claimants in minimum wage case – has the interpretation of “working time” changed?
As we enter a recession, we have been here before, and a key question is what did we learn and how can we benefit from that learning?
It is anticipated that as lockdown restrictions ease, and particularly with children and young adults returning to education, cases of meningitis will start to rise.
As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.