The Inheritance Act 1975 - Don't leave it to the last minute!

23 Dec 2016

The dailies have commented regularly on the saga  of Ilott v Mitson [2010] concerning the claim of an adult, estranged daughter against the estate of her late mother, for reasonable provision for her maintenance under the Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975.  The deceased had made no provision for her daughter, as she had, in effect,  disowned her. The deceased strongly disapproved when her daughter left home, at quite a young age, to live with a man, whose lifestyle did not meet the deceased’s expectations! The deceased did not approve of her daughter subsisting on state benefits.

The deceased left all her estate to charities, with which she had no long term affinity, so far as could be determined in court. These charities, in the light of the court having made an award in favour of the daughter, are fighting all the way to the Supreme Court where the case will soon be heard. They are standing up, so it is said, for the principle of testamentary freedom.

A similar case has recently been decided in the Central London County Court. In Amey v Jones [2016]. A daughter, aged 41, claimed, against the estate of her late father, as he had made no provision for her in his Will. The Recorder’s view of the claim may have been coloured by the fact that the daughter took three years to apply. The applicant daughter had two teenage children, and was not working. Her lack of employment was found to be a lifestyle choice.

The most important difference, in this case, was that the entire estate passed to the deceased’s widow as beneficiary. It is true that the marriage was not too long a time before the deceased’s death, but the widow and the deceased had been a couple for over thirty years, and the court saw this as a very long term relationship.

In any event the daughter’s evidence, of her needs and resources, and her relationship with her father, was found to be unreliable, and the court did not therefore accept it as convincing.

Ultimately the claim failed; the Recorder was not convinced of the claimant’s needs, and furthermore found that the widow, because of her age, needed the entire estate to maintain herself. The daughter failed to establish a moral claim on the estate, let alone a legal one.

Clearly in Ilott v Mitson, the defendants are charities, so they cannot easily establish that they “need” to inherit. The moral for a testator determined to disown in these circumstances is to establish a pattern of lifetime giving or volunteering in favour of one’s residuary charities as soon as possible – do not leave it to the last minute!!

 

For further assistance with the Inheritance Act, or any other personal or family matter, please contact Bryan on:

Further reading

Use of statutory demand to make company insolvent suspended until June

Blog, Legal Updates
08/04/2021
Cheraine Williams looks at more temporary Covid-driven measures that will protect businesses and tenants from possible legal action
Read more Read

New guidance issued for valuation of flats and investigating fire safety

Blog, Legal Updates
07/04/2021
Cheraine Williams looks a the current situation facing leaseholders looking to sell or re-finance their property; will new guidance provide clarity?
Read more Read

Government sets new energy targets for domestic and commercial buildings

Blog, Legal Updates
06/04/2021
UK law requires net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; new rules and standards for heating and powering buildings will have a significant impact
Read more Read

Covid regs prevent landlords taking action to recover rent for more than 500 days

Blog, Legal Updates
01/04/2021
Just seven days’ rent arrears used to be enough for commercial landlords to take action; the latest adjustment pushes that out to 554 days
Read more Read
  • Brighton Office

    1 Jubilee Street

    Brighton

    East Sussex

    BN1 1GE

  • Gatwick Office

    Griffin House

    135 High Street

    Crawley

    West Sussex

    RH10 1DQ

  • Guildford Office

    Wonersh House

    The Guildway

    Old Portsmouth Road

    Guildford

    Surrey

    GU3 1LR

  • Horsham Office

    Ridgeland House

    15 Carfax

    Horsham

    West Sussex

    RH12 1DY

  • London Office

    6 New Street Square

    New Fetter Lane

    London

    EC4A 3BF

  • Get in touch