The significance of lifetime gifts to an inheritance claim defence
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A recent inheritance claim defence succeeded on the basis of financial gifts the deceased had made during his lifetime.
Inheritance claims had been made by two daughters against their father’s estate after he failed to make any provision for them in his will.
The claims failed because the daughters had both received substantial cash sums from their father while he was alive, sufficient to enable them to buy their own properties. The court concluded that neither daughter could show she had a need for maintenance.
It was relevant that their father was not maintaining his daughters at the time of his death, and hadn’t done so for the best part of ten years.
Although the judge accepted that one daughter would be unable to afford to stay in herLondon flat, the solution to that problem would be to move to a slightly smaller, cheaper flat in the same area.
The court also took into account the fact that the claimants’ mother was still living and was willing to continue to help both her daughters financially, utilising funds from a 50/50 divorce settlement.
The fact that their father’s surviving wife was not herself in financial need was not considered to be relevant. Nor was the court swayed by the fact that the claimants’ stepmother had previously made a mirror will with their father under which they would each receive a quarter of the survivor’s estate; a will which she told the judge she had not revoked.
Without doubt the most critical feature of the inheritance claim defence was the impact of the lifetime gifts which had been made with the intention of encouraging the daughters’ financial independence. After making those gifts their father made it clear that he was not prepared to provide any further financial assistance to them. The subsequent lifestyle choices they then made were not dependent upon an expectation of assistance from their father.