We recently notched up another inheritance dispute success at trial when we helped our client recover £70,000 from the estate of his late step father.
His step father had died without leaving a will. This meant that the intestacy rules governed who inherited and because our client was neither his biological son nor his adopted son he lost out completely.
Instead, the entire estate passed to our client’s step brother. This was despite the fact that the estate comprised assets that had been left by our client’s biological mother. Our client knew that his mother and stepfather had wanted him to inherit, but his step brother was not prepared to compromise.
We provided a free case assessment and advised that there were grounds to make an Inheritance Act claim for financial provision from the estate. Because we strongly believed in the case we were willing to work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Our assessment was ultimately proved to be correct, despite the defendant fighting it all the way to trial and refusing to accept reasonable settlement proposals..
In dealing with this inheritance dispute the trial judge took into consideration a number of factors, including the fact that:
- Although our client and his family were managing to “get by” on their current income, this did not mean that they were living at the appropriate standard;
- Our client was dependent on his wife’s income and she was likely to retire in six or seven years;
- Our client’s step brother had taken voluntary redundancy and was doing an Open University degree which the court determined was a ‘lifestyle choice’;
- Our client had been promised by his mother and step father that their joint assets would be split equally between the children;
- The estate had a value of around £240,000 of which, around £50,000 had already been spent by the Defendant. The estate was therefore of sufficient size for an award to be made;
- A substantial part of the estate came from our client’s mother, who had herself been the beneficiary of an inheritance;
- Our client had serious physical and mental health problems;
- Our client was not fit to work; and
- The deceased had acted as a father to our client for 46 years.
This combination of factors was sufficient for the judge to rule in our client’s favour.
And because we won the trial, the judge ordered the step brother to pay the legal costs incurred by our client in this inheritance dispute.