Making reasonable provision in your will for those who depend upon you financially is a duty, not a choice. Danielle Wane looks at a recent case in which a judge made that point, coming to the aid of two sisters who were left in acute need when their father bequeathed them nothing.
In a will made four months before he died, their father left the entirety of his estate – consisting of his home, which was worth £355,000 – to their brother, who lived in the property. The sisters launched proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Ruling on the matter, the judge noted that both sisters were in their 60s and in poor health. Their father had, from time to time, helped them out with gifts of money and their disinheritance had left their finances in a parlous state. Their brother, aged in his 70s, had almost entirely failed to engage in the proceedings.
The judge found that the father, whilst anxious to ensure that his son continued to have a roof over his head, had also stated his intention to make provision for his other children. In failing to reflect that intention in his will, he had failed to make reasonable provision for the sisters. In order to meet their reasonable needs, the judge ruled that one sister should have £70,000 from the estate and the other £90,000.
We asked Senior Associate Solicitor Danielle Wane For Her Expert Insight –
‘This case highlights the importance of obtaining independent legal advice, to consider all your options to protect those who are financially dependent on you. In this case, the son could have enjoyed a continued right of occupation rather than inheriting the entirety of the estate. This would have allowed him to continue to enjoy his life interest in the property whilst also making provision for the other children. If you’re considering treating your children differently, it is extremely important to seek independent legal advice. ”[/col] [/row]