Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
It was reported this week that Mrs Harban Kaur (Mrs Kaur) an 83 year old widow who had been married for 66 years had been disinherited by her husband who by his Will wished to leave everything to his two sons and nothing to his wife or four daughters. Mr Singh’s reasons for this were that he “wished to leave his Estate solely down the male line”
Had it not been for the Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975 (“the Act”) that would have been the end of the matter. However this piece of legislation allowed the Judge to award her approximately 50% of the what is believed to be an Estate worth £1.2 -£1.9 million.
Mrs Kaur was married to the deceased when he died and therefore for the purposes of the Act the surviving spouse. As such she fell within a specified group of applicants (which also includes children, civil partners, a person living with the deceased as though husband and wife in the last 2 years, a person treated by the deceased as a child of the family and finally a person who was maintained by the deceased immediately before death) and as such had standing to make a claim.
Before the court will make an order under the Act it must be satisfied that either the will or the law relating to intestacy is such that it does not make reasonable financial provision for the applicant. In this case, the Judge referred to the fact that “It seems to me that this is the clearest case entitling me to conclude that reasonable provision has not been made for the Claimant. It is hard to see how any other conclusion can be reached”
The outcome of the case of Mrs Kaur and The Estate of Mr Singh probably looks like common sense due to the length of the marriage but without the Act Mrs Kaur would have had no recourse and could have lost her home and been reliant on the state benefits.
There is however a stark difference in the amounts being awarded by Judges for spouses under the Act verses cohabitees even when the relationship has been far longer than a marriage. The reason for this is that the principles relevant to what a person may receive on divorce are not considered on a cohabitee claim, the claim is limited to that which is needed for maintenance.