Constructive Trust and Inheritance Act Claims by Cohabitee Against Intestate Partner’s Estate

Inheritance Dispute lawyer, Naomi Ireson, represented Mr D on a No Win - No Fee basis in a claim against his late partner’s estate. His partner died intestate (without a Will). The consequences of this meant that her entire estate passed to her mother and nothing to Mr D.

The estate was worth in the region of £200,000, the main asset being the couple’s home which was registered in the deceased’s sole name.

It was Mr D’s case that he had a beneficial interest in the property under what lawyers refer to as a Constructive Trust, because:

a) he and the deceased treated the Property as "their home" and thereafter Mr D relied upon this when he undertook and paid for significant renovations, including fitting a new kitchen, paying for the rendering, retiling the roof, paying for replacement hot water cylinders, a central heating pump, bathroom taps and landscaping;

b) this work was done in reliance upon the deceased’s assurance that the house was equally his

c) that Mr D contributed equally to the utility bills

We also alleged that the intestacy rules failed to provide him with reasonable financial provision and that as such, he should be awarded a sum for his maintenance in accordance with the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Mr D pursued this claim on the basis that he was living with the deceased as if they were husband and wife for more than two years prior to her death and on the basis that he was maintained by her by way of the provision of a home.

Both the Constructive Trust and Inheritance Act claims were defended by the deceased’s mother and sister. They robustly refuted any suggestion that Mr D had an interest in the property and alleged that Mr D’s relationship with the deceased was nothing more than landlord and tenant at the time of her death.

However, the defendants eventually had to concede that there was merit to our client’s case and the claim was settled by negotiation before proceedings were commenced with Mr D being awarded a lump sum. 

For free initial advice on bringing a Constructive Trust claim or a claim under the Inheritance Act contact Naomi  on 01823 354545. You can also email Naomi at naomi.ireson@sleeblackwell.co.uk