The first judgment on a reasonable provision claim under s.11 of the Inheritance Act 1975 has been given. This could have major consequences for Inheritance Act claims.
In the case the testator was a male divorcee who had divorced his third wife in 2017. At the time of the divorce, he had agreed in the settlement to leave his property to his son with his third wife. The girlfriend of the testator agreed and signed a settlement. The Family Court approved it.
The testator became terminally ill in 2019 and married his fourth wife so that she could benefit from his pension. Upon marriage, however, his previous will was revoked. This then disinherited his son and meant that his fourth wife was the only beneficiary of his estate.
The testator’s son brought a claim for enforcement of the 2017 divorce agreement which the testator’s fourth wife and widow counterclaimed under s.11 of the Inheritance Act. She requested that the property be used to make reasonable financial provision for her.
The court ruled that the son’s claim should be upheld and that the widow’s claim should be rejected.
Imogen Halstead of No.5 Barristers’ Chambers commented to step.org that the ruling has “significant ramifications for both insolvency law and family law”.
“It could add more uncertainty on the value of reaching a settlement in divorce on terms that property is to be left by will. Had the widow been successful in her case, it would have left the ex-wife and son without the main benefit of the divorce order and without the ability to re-negotiate following the death of her husband.”
“This section has never previously received judicial treatment and consequently is a route to relief that practitioners drafting settlements in divorce and other disputes frequently forget.”
Inheritance Act Claims
The Inheritance Act ensures when a person passes away, every beneficiary earns a provision. Claims often arise if a claimant doesn’t receive reasonable financial provision in the Will. The Inheritance Act addresses reasonable financial provision for non-spouses and civil partners to bring a claim. For spouses and civil partners, moreover, the matter goes beyond maintenance.
“Financial provision that would be reasonable in all circumstances of the case for the applicant to receive for their maintenance. This financial provision includes the financial needs of the person in both the present and the foreseeable future.”
Inheritance Act claims also relate to those who lived in either England or Wales. The Inheritance Act does not cover those who lived in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, or any of the Channel Islands. However, the person who wishes to claim can live anywhere.
Under the Inheritance Act, certain people can make a claim. These people are:
- A spouse/civil partner of the deceased
- A former spouse/civil partner
- Children of the deceased, including step-children or adopted children
- Financial dependants
- In certain cases, cohabitees
How We Can Help
Here at The Inheritance Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with inheritance claims. This includes Inheritance Act claims. So contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly experts.