17th May, 2019
Defending or Bringing a potential Inheritance Act Claim
The recent judgement in Wellesley v Wellesley follows the developing line of claims brought by adult children who are disappointed by the contents of their parents’ Wills.
This case involved the estate of Garrett Wellesley, the 7th Earl of Cowley. Tara Wellesley was one of two children of the Earl’s first marriage.
By his Will, executed two days before his death at the age of 82, the Earl left £20,000, out of a net estate of £1.3 million, to Tara. The remainder of the estate was split between various charities, the Earl’s other children and stepchildren, and his fourth wife.
Tara had been estranged from her father for 30 years prior to his death. Her only income came from state benefits, although she stated in her claim that she was an aspiring artist.
Tara brought a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. She argued that the £20,000 legacy from her father did not constitute ‘reasonable financial provision’ on the basis that she was not able to meet her own financial needs which she cited as including, amongst others; provision for her disabled son, provision for treatment for her own ADHD and funding to allow her to undertake a fine art qualification and to acquire studio space.
Tara’s application was unsuccessful on two grounds:
- Tara’s income covered her outgoings, if only leaving a small amount left over.
- Tara was considered by the Court to have been responsible for her estrangement from her father, which had been due to her involvement with drugs.
The judge held that the significant period of estrangement outweighed the other factors upon which Tara was relying and on this basis did not award Tara any further funds from her late father’s estate.
This case shows a departure from the trend for successful claims being brought by estranged adult children, which gathered momentum after the much publicised Supreme Court appeal in the case of Illot v Mitson in which a disappointed daughter was ultimately awarded £50,000 from the estate of her late mother despite having been estranged from her for a period of 26 years prior to her death.
If you would like any more information about defending or bringing a potential Inheritance Act claim, please contact our Contentious Probate experts James Wallace and Rhiannon Edwards.
Wills, Trusts and Tax
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