Leaving your dependants out of your will?

Posted: 3rd January 2020

Will writingFailing to remember those who depend on you financially in your will is an invitation to discord amongst your loved ones after you are gone.

That was certainly so in the case of a businessman who, despite having an estate worth over £4 million when he died, left his widow bereft of an income to support herself.

The length of the man’s marriage to his second wife meant that she would doubtless have had a claim to a share of his wealth, or at least to have her reasonable needs met, had their relationship ended in divorce.

By his will, however, he bequeathed her only a half share in the matrimonial home, which was heavily mortgaged, and a car. She was left with no independent source of income and the car was subsequently taken from her because it was held on a lease from the husband’s company.

After she brought a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, seeking reasonable provision from her husband’s estate, the High Court noted that the dispute was particularly tragic. She and her husband’s three children from his first marriage had all got on perfectly well prior to his death. The bitter family rift created by the terms of his will, however, had since locked them into emotional and expensive litigation.

With the trial date for the widow’s claim still some distance in the future, she sought interim financial relief so that she could meet her essential outgoings. On the basis that her claim was likely to succeed, at least to some extent, the Court ordered that, in order to meet her immediate needs, she be paid £5,200 in monthly maintenance from the estate pending the resolution of the case.

The Court also directed that she be paid a £55,578 lump sum from the estate for the purpose of meeting legal costs run up in the litigation. The Court expressed the hope that the family members might resolve their differences by mediation, rendering a contested trial of the action unnecessary.