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Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) 1975 – The Importance Of A Measured Approach

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The case of Taylor v Redmond and Leberknight [2018] is an important lesson in the need to put forward a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in a careful and measured manner.

In this case such an approach ensured that Ms Taylor was successful in securing an award of £325,000 from her late partner’s Estate.  Carole Taylor had been in a relationship with James Redmond for a number of years prior to his death after they met at an Irish Dancing Club.  They had lived together for 7 years.

Mr Redmond had made a Will dated 2 August 1985 which left his entire Estate to his adult daughters, Jane Redmond and Lynn Leberknight.  When he died in October 2014 the daughters concealed their entitlement from Ms Taylor and told her that the house had to be sold.

Ms Taylor left and went to live with her son, but filed a claim for a share of the estate.

As an preliminary issue, the daughters alleged that Ms Taylor was just one of a number of girlfriends their father had and that he was in fact involved in a number of relationships with other women, one of whom lived in a property he owned in Somerset.  Mr Redmond’s ex-wife gave evidence that Ms Tayor was a mere lodger whilst she contended that she had lived in the same one-bed flat with Mr Redmond for the 7 years prior to his death as man and wife.

The Judge, Stephen Hockman QC, rejected the Defendants’ evidence declining to infer that any other females in Mr Redmond’s life were anything more than friends. He considered that there was ample evidence that Mr Redmond regarded Ms Taylor as his partner despite them remaining unmarried.

Hospital records described Ms Taylor as his “partner” and one of the daughters had also described Ms Taylor in a letter as her “stepmother”.

For all these reasons, the Judge was satisfied that throughout the whole period of their relationship they shared a household as man and wife and that Ms Taylor was eligible to bring the claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

The determination of “reasonable provision” by the Judge was very interesting.  All cases of this nature are fact sensitive and what is considered reasonable provision for one particular Claimant will not be appropriate for another.

In this case the daughters had misled Ms Taylor into moving out of the flat she had shared with Mr Redmond and moving with her son.  She was 70 years of age and therefore had limited ability to raise funds.  The Judge determined that it was not appropriate for her to have to live with her son indefinitely and awarded her the sum of £180,000 to purchase a property to live out her days in as well as the costs of acquiring the property itself.  A life interest was granted over the property so that in due course the daughters would receive the benefit of the asset, the Judge considering that this provided for Ms Taylor’s needs without giving her own heirs an additional windfall upon her death.

In addition, capitalised maintenance and funds to purchase a new car were awarded in the sum of £145,000 to allow for a top up of Ms Taylor’s pension income.

The important lessons in this case arise in relation to the importance of presenting a clear and genuine picture to the Court.  Here, the daughters had not behaved well in misleading Ms Taylor to force her out of the flat and the Court clearly disbelieved their evidence as to the nature of the relationship between their father and Ms Taylor.  Ultimately the daughters were ordered to pay Ms Taylor’s costs of the claim.

Further, Ms Taylor’s claim was reasonable and not exaggerated, making it easier for the Court to see how “reasonable provision” might be provided for. It is far better for a Claimant to advance a solid proportionate claim than to risk losing credibility in Court by claiming exaggerated amounts from an estate.

If you need any advice from our Specialist Team please give us a call.

Jennifer Laskey

Posted:

Jennifer Laskey

Partner

Jennifer is a Solicitor and Partner with 21 years experience advising clients in relation to litigated Will disputes. A Legal 500 recognised lawyer, Jennifer is a full member of ACTAPs and has resolved multi-million pound disputes for clients in Courts across England.