Defending an Inheritance Act claim: The impact of lifetime gifts
Two adult daughters (aged 39 and 40) recently made claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 against the estate of their late father who had left his estate worth £2.1m to his second wife.
Both daughters had been financially supported by their parents during childhood and enjoyed a high standard of living, but no provision was made in their father’s will for either of them.
Their claims failed on the basis that neither daughter could demonstrate a need for maintenance. One daughter did not work, but accepted she was capable of working part time. She was housed and supported by her mother. The second daughter was working. She had a young child and was divorced. However, she had a flat in London with the ability to downsize.
Crucially, in this case, the claimants’ father had given them £177,000 and £185,000 respectively in 2008. At that time he said he intended for them to invest the money wisely in a property which they both did. Subsequent to these gifts, their father told them that they were financially on their own and should not expect any further assistance either during his lifetime or following his death.
Both daughters experienced periods of estrangement from their father and both went through their adult lives without financial support from him. Neither daughter was maintained in any sense by their father for the best part of ten years before his death.
It is clear in this case that the lifetime gifts from their father undermined their case and it is an important factor for those defending an Inheritance Act claim to take into account.
The outcome might have been different if:
- The Judge had been more impressed with their evidence;
- The daughters had a greater financial need;
- Their father had provided them with a degree of financial support after 2008; and/or
- There had been no periods of estrangements.