Inheritance Act Claims and Divorce

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A divorced woman has successfully made an Inheritance Act claim against her ex-husband’s estate, even though the terms of their divorce excluded such a claim. Lee Dawkins, a solicitor in our contentious probate team, reviews the case of Chekov v Fryer & Anor [2015]

When couples divorce it’s common for the parties to agree that they will not claim against each other’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act) Act 1975.

This is what Miss Chekov and Mr Fryer agreed when they divorced in the 1980’s and the court Order following their divorce specifically includes this provision.

However, when Mr Fryer died, Miss Chekov brought a claim against Mr Fryer’s estate under the Inheritance Act.

She said that the court Order didn’t apply because after they divorced the couple had carried on living together. She therefore pursued her inheritance claim for financial provision as a cohabitee, not a former spouse.

Mr Fryer sons from a previous marriage, who inherited his estate under his Will, objected to Miss Chekov’s claim. They did not think she should benefit in view of the terms of the divorce settlement.

However, the court accepted Miss Chekov’s argument and allowed her claim.

Cohabitation following divorce is not as rare as some people think. Our courts are increasingly willing to use their powers under the Inheritance Act, so where couples continue living together after a divorce, for financial or other reasons, they should be aware that any bar on Inheritance Act claims contained in the divorce settlement may not be effective.

Call our Inheritance dispute team for a FREE initial assessment of your case on 0808 139 1606 or email us at [email protected]