Planning to disinherit a dependant?

Posted: 8th August 2018

PenIf you fail to remember your dependants in your will, it is likely that a judge will intervene after your death to ensure they are reasonably provided for. Exactly that happened in one case in which a woman who was bequeathed nothing by her partner was awarded £325,000 from his estate.

The man signed his final will 20 years before he met the woman, who lived with him in his flat for about seven years and cared for him during his final illness. After his death from prostate cancer, his daughters – to whom he had left everything he owned – asked her to leave the flat so that it could be sold. She did so and, having received nothing from the estate, was left to fend for herself.

Solicitors on behalf of the woman, aged in her 70s, launched proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 seeking reasonable provision for her from the man’s estate. In resisting her claim, the daughters argued that she was just one of their father’s several girlfriends and that he was not the marrying kind. It was also submitted that his relationship with the woman cooled towards the end of his life and that he had asked her to move out.

In upholding the woman’s claim, the High Court noted that the daughters’ insistence that she leave the flat, whilst not unlawful, was hardly sensitive. She and the man had clearly been in love and regarded each other as partners. Her relationship with him was not comparable to those he enjoyed with other girlfriends. It was also highly improbable that he would have chosen, in the final months of his life, to end a relationship that had brought him much intimacy and support.

Noting that the woman had been reduced to living with her son and his partner on a modest pension, the Court found that she was entitled to capitalised maintenance from the estate. She was also awarded £180,000 so that she could buy a home of her own. She would have a life interest in that property, which would revert to the daughters on her death.