Posted in Family Law
Recent news that a woman has been awarded £30,000 from her father’s estate, despite the fact that he made it clear he had disinherited his children, will certainly cause some consternation by many looking at their Wills.
It is the first judgement of its kind, since a landmark Supreme Court ruling that was thought to clarify testamentary freedom and what constitutes reasonable provision.
In this case,Elena Nahajec was awarded the figure from Stanley Nahajec’s £240,000 estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
In the judgement, his Honour Judge Saffman said Nahajec should be due maintenance because she wanted to complete a veterinary course, despite her having almost no contact with her father for many years before his death in 2015.
Mr Nahajec had left a letter explicitly disinheriting all three of his children, instead leaving the whole of his estate to a friend, Stephen Fowle.
Elena’s half-brother Mark Nahajec, who was unable to work through ill-health, made a claim under the 1975 act which was settled for £22,000, whilst a third sibling, Philip Nahajec, made no claim.
This case all centered on reasonable financial provision, and is not unlike the Heather Ilott Supreme Court case earlier this year, where a woman who fell out with her mother when she married was given a share of her mother’s estate.
Many of us who are experts in wills thought after the Ilott case that estrangement could be fatal or severely reduce the value of an award.
In this latest will battle, the award of 11.3% of the estate was very similar to that in the Ilott case. There had been specific mention of her hopes of doing a veterinary course, so this is an example of something that falls under the definition of “maintenance” post Ilott.
In other words, it means that estranged child claims need to show a track record of reconciliation attempts in order for the Judges to consider their views.
This case means parents wishing to disinherit their children should ensure they seek expert legal advice, which will help prevent an estranged child from contesting their will.
Anybody wishing to know more about this case or any other issues surrounding wills, should contact us to discuss their individual requirements, we are happy to help.