A costly reminder to make sure your affairs are in order

A woman has won her legal battle to stop her partner’s share in their property passing to his estranged wife.

Norman Martin died in 2012 from a heart attack. At the time of his death he was married to his estranged wife, Maureen Martin. They were no longer in a relationship together but hadn’t divorced and for the last 18 years of his life Norman lived with his partner, Joy Williams.

In 2009, Joy and Norman jointly purchased a property, which they held as tenants in common. This meant that Norman’s share of the property did not automatically pass to Joy on Norman’s death but instead was due to be inherited by his estranged wife. To provide some security for her future, Joy was required to bring a claim to Court for a financial award from Norman’s Estate.

After a long and costly legal battle, with legal fees in excess of £100,000, the Court decided that Joy ought to be entitled to a financial provision from Norman’s Estate. This came in the form of an award transferring Norman’s share in their jointly owned property to her outright. Maureen has indicated that she will appeal the decision and therefore, for the time being, Joy’s accommodation arrangements remain uncertain.

Inheritance disputes are increasingly common. While it may not be possible to guarantee that your Estate will not be challenged, this case (amongst others) highlights the very real need to make sure your affairs are in order.

If you need help or advice in relation to an inheritance dispute, please contact a member of the Dispute Resolution team.

If you would like to prepare a Will or discuss your existing Will, please contact any member of our Wills & Probate team.

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