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Legal News | 16.03.23

For richer, for poorer

For better, for worse

If you are reviewing your pension arrangements following yesterday’s Budget, then do read our newsletter on SIPPs again.

Until death do us part?

In England and Wales, we are fortunate to have testamentary freedom when it comes to our final wishes; however, this does not prevent an individual from potentially being able to make a claim against an estate.

A recent example of this was heard in the High Court where a widow brought a claim against her late husband’s estate for not making reasonable financial provision for her in his Will. Karnail Singh and Harbans Kaur were married for 66 years and had three daughters and two sons together. By his final Will, Mr Singh left his entire £1.2million estate to his two sons as he wished for it to pass down his male blood line, thus excluding his wife and daughters completely.

Provided that an individual falls into one of the categories of people eligible to make a claim, a disappointed beneficiary may bring a claim against a deceased’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. A surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to as much financial provision as is seen as reasonable in all the circumstances, whether or not it is required for their maintenance. This often means that they would be entitled to enjoy the same standard of living  as they enjoyed before their partner’s death. Anyone else claiming under the Act is entitled to such reasonable financial provision as is necessary for their maintenance.

The Court will consider a wide range of factors in determining whether a disappointed beneficiary should be awarded a share of an estate. These factors include the size of the estate, the financial circumstances and health conditions of all parties and of other potential dependants of the deceased.

In the High Court ruling, the Judge heard how Mrs Kaur had played a “full role” in the marriage and worked in the family clothing business and how she was now living on an income of £12,000 per year, subsidised by state benefits. Awarding Mrs Kaur 50% of the net value of her husband’s estate, the judge commented that “it seems to me that this is the clearest possible case entitling me to conclude that reasonable provision has not been made for the claimant.”

Wansbroughs offers a wide range of services which include Will drafting, advising on potential claims and assisting in making a claim against an estate, so please get in touch with your usual Wansbroughs contact or email wealth@wansbroughs.com.