Neither cohabitants or children have any automatic right to a share of the estate of the deceased cohabitant. A cohabitant is not entitled at law to deal with administering the Estate of their cohabitant. There is an exception, where a cohabitant dies intestate, leaving minor children, who are also the children of the surviving cohabitant. A surviving cohabitant may extract the Grant of Administration as ‘next friend’ of the minor child. In order to do so, the cohabitant must have no interest antagonistic to the interest of the minor child, e.g; if the cohabitant intends to sue for redress.
Cohabitants have no legal right obligation to provide for a child in a Will. Unlike a spouse’s right, there is no automatic entitlement for children to a ‘legal right share’, where there is a valid Will. However, the Succession Act provides an avenue of Relief. A claim can be made under Section 117, to contest a Will that does not provide for a child, on the basis that the parent/ father failed in his moral duty to make adequate provision for his child. All children, without distinction as to whether its parents are married or unmarried, can challenge a parents estate if the parent did not make proper provision for his child during his lifetime.
The court considers various factors in deciding what a ‘fair and just’ parent would have done, including: the number of children, ages and position in the family, the means of deceased parent, the age of the child (child includes adults, and also, non-marital biological children); and the child’s financial situation, prospects, educational access and financial provision made during the parent’s life and the parent’s other obligations. There is a very short time limit for making such a claim.