An estranged adult child who, along with her siblings, had been disinherited from benefitting from her late father’s estate worth in the region of £264,000 has been awarded a sum of money.
The County Court ruled on the case of Nahajec v Fowle  EW Misc 11 (CC), the facts and judgment of which are reminiscent of the widely publicised Ilott v Blue Cross  UKSC 17.
The claim was brought by the deceased’s daughter, Elena, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975 on the basis that her late father had failed to make reasonable financial provision for her under his Will.
One of the claimant’s half-brothers had brought and settled his claim out of court for £22,000. Her other half-brother did not make a claim.
The deceased left a note with his Will setting out his reasons for excluding his children. However, His Honour Judge Saffman gave limited weight to this note as his view was that the deceased had prepared the note on the mistaken belief of his children’s financial position.
Ultimately, His Honour Judge Saffman found that the Will did not make reasonable financial provision for Elena and she was awarded £30,000.
It was held that Elena was in receipt of very modest income, in straitened financial circumstances and the lack of a relationship with the deceased was not of her own making.
His Honour Judge Saffman specifically referred to Elena’s desire to improve herself and use the funds to qualify as a veterinary nurse and noted that this was not a fanciful idea.
This case is interesting because the award to Elena is 11.3% of the deceased’s estate which is quite close to the percentage of the award given in Ilott.
That said, the award was based on the time it would take for Elena to undertake a course to provide her with the requisite veterinary nurse qualification and so was a calculated value judgment, not just following in the footsteps of the previous judgment.
This judgment confirms that the door remains firmly open for the estranged adult child to bring a claim under the 1975 Act. This case confirms that the Court will look at whether there were historical attempts to reconcile between parties and also whether there are special circumstances which would mean the claimant would warrant an award.
As is necessary, the Courts are working on a case by case basis and so it will be interesting to see what the next case brings.
If you need help or advice in relation to an inheritance dispute, please contact a member of the Dispute Resolution team.