Estranged Husband Wins No Win, No Fee Funded Inheritance Act Claim

Mr M contacted Inheritance Dispute lawyer, Naomi Ireson, to act for him on a No Win, No Fee basis in a claim against his late wife’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Mr M and his wife were separated at the time of her death and a divorce was imminent. Shortly after their separation, Mr M’s wife changed her Will leaving everything to relatives. Their marital home was in her sole name, which meant that Mr M was homeless and received nothing upon his wife’s death.

Whilst their marriage was short, we argued that their relationship as a whole was one which justified an award under the 1975 Inheritance Act. Mr M was without a home, a job or any financial assets. He was in need of financial provision from his wife’s estate.

The inheritance claim proceeded to mediation. The defendants argued that the case should be dealt with in accordance with what Mr M would have received on a divorce, which they said would have been minimal given that it was his wife who had acquired the marital assets and the marriage was short-lived.

In contrast, we asserted that the starting point was that Mr M was entitled to an award on “the spousal standard”, that it is to say what is reasonable for a spouse to receive, whether or not it is needed for his maintenance. This is an important distinction for claims by spouse under the Inheritance Act and can sometimes be overlooked.  We considered he would have little difficulty in persuading the court that the deceased’s failure not to provide any provision for him was, in all the circumstances, unreasonable. 

While we accepted that the divorce cross check was an issue the Court would need to consider, we asserted that it is important to avoid over analysis.  The simple points were that Mr M and the deceased were not divorced at the time of her death; that they had been in a relationship for over ten years at that point; that the court will clearly have regard to the divorce cross check under s. 3(2) of the 1975 Act; and insofar as it does, there was nothing in the case to suggest that a Court would depart from the yardstick of equality.

We were confident of our analysis and court proceedings were issued once we had obtained extensive witness statements evidencing the contributions which Mr M had made to the marriage. This evidence was persuasive and the defendants concede at mediation that the claim was a valid one.

Mr M received slightly less than one half of the estate and was delighted with the outcome.

If you are contemplating a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 then give us a call on 01823 354545 for free initial advice and information on No Win, No Fee funding.