Inheritance Act Claims – A cautionary tale

The law in relation to claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 has been developing in recent years with a number of claims having been brought by adult children who were not dependent upon the deceased in any way (due to disability etc).

The recent case (Shapton V Seviour) when such an application was dismissed could well serve as a warning to adult non-dependent children against issuing such an application.

In this case the judge was very critical of the claimant for bringing the case in the first place saying that it was hopeless and never stood a chance of success.

The case related to the estate of the late Colin Seviour who died in 2016 and who left the whole of his estate (approximately £268,000) to his wife and made no provision to the children of his earlier marriage.  The plan had been that the survivor of the couple would leave their estate to the four children that they had between them from their previous marriages but, following his death the relationship between his daughter, Mrs Shapton, and the surviving wife became strained and Mrs Shapton brought her claim alleging that it was unreasonable that she was left nothing.

The court contrasted the financial positions of all those involved and noted that Mrs Shapton was able to lead a comfortable lifestyle and most of the deceased’s wealth was tied up in the property that he owned with his wife.  If she had had to pay anything then the property would probably would have to have been sold and she was in very poor health.

As often happens a high profile successful case (in this instance Illot v Mitson-some years ago) in which a non-dependent child, estranged from her mother, was awarded 10% of the estate leads to a flood of similar claims.  This case shows that it is unwise to bring a claim unless advised that the prospects of success are strong.

Litigation is always uncertain.

We have experience of advising on both sides of such claims and if you require more specialist advice please contact our director Dervla Nash on 01749 330330 or by email Dervla.nash@bgw-solicitors.co.uk.

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