Inheritance Act Claim Upheld

22 March 2013

The couple who were both 64 years old at the date that the husband died, leaving an estate worth approx £6 million.  They had been married just over two years at the time of the husband's death, having also lived together for a short time before the date of death.

The husband's Will left some of his personal items between his sons, his previous wife's jewellery to his granddaughters and the remainder of his personal items to his widow.  It then went on to leave £25,000 to each granddaughter and some rights of occupation to his widow over the family home and a holiday flat.  These rights would cease if she re-married, co-habited or moved out.  The reminder of his estate was then left between his sons.

The estate's solicitor argued that reasonable provision should be determined with reference to the widow's reasonable needs, but the wife's solicitors argued reasonable provision included a share of the matrimonial property and was not limited to reasonable needs.  

The court looked at the case from two angles – considering if the provision made was unreasonable and if it was, determining what would constitute reasonable provision. The defence initially argued that reasonable financial provision had been made, however soon dropped this line of argument, which the Judge held to be a prudent move.

The Court held that the two properties should be transferred to the wife, along with a further transfer of an interest in a third property which had been purchased by the couple on behalf of her son. The widow also kept her gift of the personal items under the Will.  

The case revealed a thorough judgement which will be of assistance to practitioners when considering such claims in the future. 

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The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.