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Case Study: 1975 Act Claim

View profile for Elizabeth Tolmie
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I was recently instructed by a client in relation to a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (the “Inheritance Act”), that was being brought against his late wife’s estate by his stepdaughter.

After our client’s late wife received a terminal cancer diagnosis in 2020, she made the decision to update her will, leaving the entirety of her estate to our client.

However, our client’s stepdaughter was in a precarious financial position, and argued that her mother would have wanted her to inherit under her will. She therefore decided to pursue a claim under the Inheritance Act, on the basis that the will failed to provide sufficient financial provision for her.

It was our client’s position that his stepdaughter had a distant relationship with his late wife, and since moving abroad nearly 8 years prior to her mother’s death, she had not been financially dependent on her mother for a long time. On that basis, he considered that she should not inherit anything from her mother’s estate.

However, recent case law in connection with the Inheritance Act has shown that Claimants who are the child of the deceased can be successful in their claim, even when it can be demonstrated that they were neither close with, nor financially dependent on the deceased parent immediately before their death.

In light of this, our client and his stepdaughter entered into negotiations, in a genuine attempt to bring the matter to a conclusion without the need to issue the claim at court.

The stepdaughter’s first offer was to accept over £400,000, which would have meant that she received the majority of her mother’s estate. However, when the offer was broken down, the majority of the sum she was seeking was intended to allow her to purchase a property outright for her and her children.

We successfully argued that this was an unreasonable request to make as recent case law determined that “the award should be calculated by reference to what [the Claimant] requires to meet her current financial needs” and not a situation where they should “in effect be set up with a home or income fund for life”.

As a result of our arguments, our client’s stepdaughter abandoned her claim to be entitled to a sum which would enable her to purchase a property, but rather sought a sum that would provide maintenance for a set period of time, which included covering the cost of renting a property, to allow her time to seek employment and improve her financial position.

As a result of our negotiations, the Claimant eventually accepted a sum of just under £200,000.

Whilst we understand how stressful the process was for our client, he was happy that we were able to assist in achieving the best outcome possible under the circumstances, and that he can now move forward.