Litigation Executive, Charlotte Dullaway, has recently settled an Inheritance Act claim for an elderly wife against the estate of her late husband.
It is surprisingly common for married couples to make Wills that fail to make adequate financial provision for their surviving spouse. When this occurs the surviving spouse often has no alternative but to make a claim against their husband or wife’s estate to ensure that they receive the provision they deserve.
In this case, our client’s husband failed to make provision for her under the terms of his Will. She was not without some assets of her own, but her future financial requirement were significant as she required medical care. Furthermore, the home she owned with her husband was in need of maintenance works.
To complicate matters, the wife had been presented with a Declaration of Trust by the executrix of her husband’s estate. This placed significant obligations upon our client in relation to the property which they had owned jointly.
Taken together, the Will and the Trust deed left the wife in a difficult economic position and facing a very uncertain financial future.
In order to resolve matters we recommended that the wife pursue an inheritance claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This legislation gives spouses (along with others such as children and cohabitees) the right to apply to the court for adequate financial provision from an estate.
Understandably the wife did not relish the prospect of litigation and was keen to avoid it if possible. Furthermore the estate was not large and it was unlikely that it would have been able to support both our client’s claim and a beneficial interest claim. We therefore agreed to explore the possibilities of a negotiated, out of court settlement.
Charlotte was successful in agreeing a compromise of the inheritance claim that was acceptable to all the parties. The final settlement gave our client a lump sum from the estate. The terms of the Declaration of Trust were also varied, allowing the wife a two-thirds share of the property, along with the right to reside in it for life and sole authority to initiate a sale.
If you require guidance on making an inheritance claim against your husband or your wife’s estate then call us for a free assessment of your case. We specialise in inheritance claims nationwide and can undertake claims on a no win, no fee basis.