Just when you thought that it was safe to come out - another case hits the headlines that involves the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the 1975 Act).
The 1975 Act enables someone who has not had ‘reasonable financial provision’ made for them in a will to make a claim against the estate. The growing area for the use of the 1975 Act is in relation to co-habitants.
In this case, the value of the estate was over £1.5m. The deceased had been with his partner for 42 years, although they had never married. In his will, the deceased left his entire estate to tenants and friends and nothing to his partner.
At the time of the case, the deceased’s partner was aged 79 and the High Court awarded her a property worth £225,000 outright, £100,000 for her future maintenance and care and a further £28,845 to renovate the property. Interestingly, the property in question had been bought with a view to the couple retiring there.
It is important to note that each case of this type depends on its own facts - so there is no guarantee, for example, that a co-habitee would be awarded a house outright. The decision of the court will depend on many factors including: the size and assets of the estate, the length of the relationship and the extent of financial dependency.
The case is a reminder of the precarious position of cohabitees who have no automatic right to the property of another on death; irrespective of the number of years that the parties may have been together.
If you want to discuss this or any other family or wills related matter, contact us.