Successful inheritance claim against father's will
Mrs O brought a claim against the estate of her father, Mr M, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Mr M had left a Will in which he appointed his wife, Mrs M, as executrix and left his estate to her so long as she survived him by 28 days.
Although Mrs M survived the 28 days, she died soon after. She made specific bequests to her grandchildren with the residue of her estate passing in equal shares to her three children.
Grants of probate in respect of Mr M and Mrs M’s estates were issued simultaneously.
At the same time as executing the Will, the Mr M also signed a Letter of Wishes which explained that he wished to omit Mrs O from the Will because he had very little contact with her for more than 20 years. Mrs O disputed that statement.
Mr M's estate had a net value for probate of more than £500,000. The defendants to the claim were the executors of Mrs O’s estate.
We submitted a detailed Letter of Claim on Mrs O’s behalf to the defendants.In response, the Defendants made a without prejudice offer to settle Mrs O’s Inheritance Act claim for £12,500, inclusive of legal costs.
This inheritance dispute was complicated by the fact that Mrs O was not in any apparent need for financial provision and did not have any deficit between her monthly income and outgoings. However, Mrs O suffered from a number of health problems; including fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, and multiple osteoarthritis. In the next couple of years Mrs O was likely to require further operations on her neck and would require a full time carer. This is a relevant factor under s3 of the 1975 Inheritance Act as the Court considers what the applicant’s needs are likely to be “in the foreseeable future”.
Also relevant was the fact that the estate was of a considerable size and this, together with the fact that the applicant had chronic health problems and limited earning capacity, made it likely that a court would conclude that the lack of a legacy was more unreasonable than would be the case in an estate of a much smaller size.
To be weighed against this were the difficulties presented by the Letter of Wishes and the lack of specific examples of contact between Mrs O and Mr M in the 20 years before his death, which presented a serious litigation risk.
As is frequently the case in Inheritance Act disputes the parties entered into negotiations and these discussions ultimately led to Mrs O’s inheritance claim against father's will being settled out of court.
Our inheritance disputes lawyers are available to discuss potential Inheritance Act claims on a confidential basis. We do not make a charge for initial consultations and we can advise on the availability of No Win, No Fee funding. Call us on 0808 139 1599 or email [email protected]