Jordans Solicitors acted for a client who had been effectively disinherited from her late husband’s estate. With Jordans Solicitor’s assistance we were able to settle the claim quickly and agreed a way in which the estate could be shared fairly between our client, the spouse of the deceased, and his two children from a former marriage.
Our client, who had been married to her husband for over 20 years, was horrified to find that his Will left the bulk of his estate to his two adult children he had from his first marriage. Our client was left the residue estate but this was subject to some large monetary gifts to her husband’s children and grandchildren and this meant that our client would only receive less than £5,000 from the estate. Our client was relying upon her inheriting her late husband’s estate as money for the future to see her through her retirement and to supplement her State Pension.
How the Case was Resolved
Jordans Solicitors were able to advise our client that as a spouse she had an excellent claim against her late husband’s estate for financial maintenance under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. This claim was brought quickly against the estate. Jordans Solicitors advised our client that the case had to be settled quickly so that too much money was not spent on unnecessary legal fees reducing the amount that would be available to her and the other beneficiaries. With Jordans Solicitor’s assistance we were able to quickly settle the case whereby our client received the bulk of the estate but the children and grandchildren still received some gifts under the estate as this is what our client’s late husband clearly wanted to happen. The end result was that all of the parties were happy with the settlement and neither our client nor the estate had to pay large legal fees for this assistance.
Thoughts on the Case
This case highlights the need to consider carefully what might happen to your estate after you have passed away. Making a Will is a very good way of making sure that your estate passes to the people that you want it to pass to but you must also be mindful that certain people, such as spouses, have good claims against your estate because you have a duty in law to maintain your spouse. The dispute, and the anxiety and distress that it caused everybody in having to sort it out, could have been avoided with more careful thought going into the making of the Will so that these problems could have been avoided.
The case also highlights the fact that a Will can be challenged but it is important that these challenges are brought as quickly as possible to give you the best chance of sorting out the case without expensive court proceedings being necessary.
For more information about the issues raised in this case study, please contact Susan Lewis.