Husband’s inheritance claim success against wife’s estate
Case study of a husband’s inheritance claim that was brought against his wife’s estate. If you are in a similar position and would like to know where you stand then call our helpline for a free case assessment on 0333 888 0407 or send an email to us at [email protected]
Mr M contacted inheritance dispute lawyer, Naomi Ireson, to act for him on a No Win, No Fee basis in a claim against his late wife’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Mr M and his wife were separated at the time of her death and a divorce was imminent. Shortly after their separation, Mr M’s wife changed her will leaving everything to relatives. Their marital home was in her sole name, which meant that Mr M was homeless and received nothing upon his wife’s death.
While their marriage was a short one, we argued that their relationship as a whole was one which justified an award under the Inheritance Act. Mr M was without a home, a job or any financial assets. He was in need of financial provision from his wife’s estate.
The husband’s inheritance claim proceeded to mediation. The wife’s relatives argued that the case should be dealt with on the basis of what Mr M would have received on a divorce, which they said would have been minimal given that it was his wife who had acquired the marital assets and the marriage was short-lived.
We disagreed, arguing that the starting point was that Mr M was entitled to an award on “the spousal standard”, that it is to say what is reasonable for a spouse to receive, whether or not it is needed for his maintenance. This is an important distinction for claims by a spouse under the Inheritance Act and can sometimes be overlooked by lawyers who are inexperienced in this specialist field. We considered he would have little difficulty in persuading the court that his late wife’s failure not to provide any provision for him was unreasonable.
We highlighted the fact that Mr M and his wife were not divorced at the time of her death; that they had been in a relationship for over ten years at that point; that the court would clearly have regard to the divorce cross check under s. 3(2) of the 1975 Act; and insofar as it does, there was nothing in the case to suggest that a Court would depart from the yardstick of equality.
We were confident of our analysis and court proceedings were issued on the husband’s inheritance claim once we had obtained extensive witness statements evidencing the contributions he had made to the marriage. This evidence was highly persuasive and the wife’s family conceded at mediation that the claim was a valid one.
Mr M received slightly less than one half of the estate and was delighted with the outcome.
For more information on making a husband’s inheritance claim or if you are contemplating a claim under the Inheritance Act then give us a call on 0333 888 0407 for free initial guidance and information on No Win, No Fee funding.