Inheritance Act case studies
These cases can often be resolved by direct discussions between the parties, with the assistance of their solicitors and sometimes a mediator. It is often favourable to resolve a dispute in this way, as it can be very expensive to involve the court in resolving matters. Here we run through several case studies of claims that we have helped clients to settle in this way.
Mr and Mrs A married in 2003. It was the second marriage for both of them and they both had a child from their first marriage. They lived in a property owned solely by Mrs A. In 2017, Mr and Mrs A went through some difficulties and separated for a short period. During the separation, Mrs A made a new Will, gifting her entire estate to her son and appointing her son and his father (her ex-husband) as executors of her estate. Mr and Mrs A reconciled shortly afterwards but, unfortunately, Mrs A never updated her Will before she died.
Due to the terms of the Will, Mr A was left with nowhere to live and was to receive nothing from Mrs A’s estate. Mr A was 65 years old when Mrs A died and her son was 21. Mr A did not wish to fall out with Mrs A’s son, to whom he had been a stepfather since he’d married Mrs A. Mr A came to us for help when he had not been able to come to any agreement with Mrs A’s son about where he was going to live and what was to happen in the future.
We intimated a claim on Mr A’s behalf for reasonable financial provision from Mrs A’s estate pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Act). Through correspondence with the solicitor acting for Mrs A's son, we reached an agreement that Mr A receive half of the property and a right to live in the son's half for the rest of his life. All parties were very happy with the outcome.
We acted for Mr B in defending a claim brought by his late father's second wife, Mrs C, for reasonable financial provision under the Act. Mr B was the only son of the deceased and was the sole residuary beneficiary of his estate, which was in the region of £450,000. The deceased had made no provision for Mrs C, who was 88 at the time of his death, and to whom he had been married for 20 years. The reason for Mrs C's exclusion from the Will was that, prior to the deceased's death, he had arranged for their matrimonial home to be transferred into their joint names so that she would receive it through survivorship following his death. She also had savings in her own name.
The case involved complex arguments regarding the merits of Mrs C's claim, based on her age, life expectancy, needs, the duration of the marriage and what Mrs C would have received had their marriage ended by divorce rather than death.
As a result of a lawyer's meeting at an early stage, Mrs C agreed to accept £40,000 in settlement, which was far less than what she may have received if the matter was decided by the Court. The client was extremely happy with the swift conclusion and result.
We were instructed to bring a claim under the Act on behalf of Miss D, who was 15 at the time of her father's death (Mr E). Miss D was born during Mr E's second marriage.
Mr E committed suicide, having left a Will which awarded the majority of his £1.1 million estate to his his fourth wife, Mrs E. The only provision made for Miss D was a gift of £10,000, despite Miss D having seen Mr E regularly throughout her childhood and Mr E being involved in her upbringing up until Miss E was around 13 years of age.
Mrs D took a particularly hostile and aggressive approach to the claim and refused to acknowledge that Miss D should receive anything from Mr E's estate, despite having financial needs in relation to her maintenance and current and future education.
The matter was very acrimonious and Miss D and her mother (as her litigation friend) had strong doubts that an agreed settlement would be possible given how Mrs E had acted. Despite this, we arranged a successful mediation. Miss D received a sizeable award from Mr E's estate, which was to be held in trust for her. The result was far better than Miss D and her mother had been expecting and a fully contested Court hearing was avoided.
Clarion's Contentious Private Client Team are experts in dealing with claims under the Act and are happy to have an initial chat about the points detailed above. Please feel free to contact us on 0113 336 3427 and one of the Team will be able to assist.
This is the penultimate blog in our series on the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. If you haven’t read them yet, you can find the previous blogs on other aspects of claims under the Act, here. Watch out for the final instalment in this, which will be published in the next week or so.
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