Daughter refused bigger share of estate

Posted: 17th January 2019

Cash pilesThose who fail to make reasonable provision for their dependants in their wills can have their wishes overridden by judges after they are gone.

However, in one case, a woman failed to increase her share of her aristocrat father’s £1.3 million estate after a judge ruled that she bore complete responsibility for their 35-year estrangement.

During a troubled childhood and early adulthood, Lady Elizabeth Wellesley, aged 56, had entirely rejected her father’s values and led a bohemian lifestyle of which he deeply disapproved.

In the years since their estrangement, she said that she had sunk into poverty, living entirely on benefits in local authority accommodation.

By his will, her father left her £20,000. In those circumstances, she launched a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 on the basis that he had failed to make reasonable provision for her. She sought further payments from the estate to fund fine art studies and the purchase of her council home.

In dismissing her claim, however, the judge found that her own conduct in bringing about an alienation from her father which spanned almost the whole of her adult life outweighed all factors in her favour. She had blamed others for her misfortunes but had been treated no differently from the other children of the family.

Her father did not consider that he had obligations to his children once they became adults and she was the only one of them to expect financial or other maintenance after leaving home. Her father had not been vindictive, malicious or unfair towards her. The judge found that she could and did live within her means and that her father’s bequest to her was objectively reasonable.