Many of you will have read about this rather controversial case, where an estranged daughter was awarded ?50,000 out of her mother?s ?485,000 estate. The mother had left the whole estate to charity, who appealed the fact that the daughter was given anything at all and that the Will should have been upheld. The daughter then cross-appealed claiming it wasn?t enough… well, she lost the appeal a couple of weeks ago.
In the first instance the Court held that the mother had failed to make ?reasonable financial provision? for her daughter and awarded the ?50,000, about 10% of the estate. This in the knowledge that the daughter had remained estranged since leaving home aged seventeen, she and her husband and their family lived in housing association accommodation and were heavily dependent on State Benefits. In fact she did not work and they were struggling as a family.
The daughter?s appeal was on the basis that ?reasonable? would equate to sufficient a sum to re-house her, which would be about half of the estate because any less than this would simply lead to a reduction in her State Benefits so she would be no better off.
The appeal judge had to take into account that the daughter had had no real expectation from her mother?s estate in arriving at the final decision, and so this result reaffirms that whilst an adult child may think they have a good case to lodge an appropriate claim, they should think twice before committing time, money and energy for such little personal gain.
When writing your Will, it is always worth considering if an adult child could bring a claim in the future, and working out ways of heading off such a challenge early. Anyone with a just cause can use the Inheritance (Provision?for?Family?and?Dependants)?Act 1975 but there is crucially a six month limitation date after the grant of probate date in which to make a claim.
If any of this concerns you and you would like experienced professional advice, please get in touch.