The outcome of a recent High Court case is a warning for anyone challenging a Will.
Tony Shearer died in October 2017, leaving nearly all of an estate worth about £2.2m to his second wife, Pamela.
His two daughters, Juliet and Lauretta, born in the early 1980s to his first wife, received nothing. This prompted them to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Lauretta wanted a payment from her father’s estate to cover:
Juliet sought funds to:
In 2008, shortly after his divorce, Tony gave £177,000 to Juliet and £185,000 to Lauretta. At the time he made clear there would be no further financial support to his daughters. This was an important factor in the case as it reinforced the decisions Tony made in the creation of his Will.
The judge rejected the claims of both daughters, stating that neither had established a need for maintenance to be funded from their father’s estate.
Two lessons can be drawn from this case:
Firstly, make your intentions clear in advance to try to reduce potential disappointment and the likelihood of legal action when a Will is finally read.
Secondly, Tony’s Will achieved what he wanted to happen. Had he left matters to English intestacy laws, Pamela would have received only £125,000 and personal chattels outright, with Juliet and Lauretta immediately jointly receiving half the residue (less about £285,000 of inheritance tax).
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