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Inheritance Claims after Ilott – Nahajec V Fowle

09 Oct 2017

Many of you will be aware of the Supreme Court decision earlier this year in the case of Ilott V The Blue Cross and Others. This was a case in which the estranged daughter of the deceased was left nothing under the terms of her mother’s Will. She, therefore, challenged her mother’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the ‘1975 Act’) and was awarded £50,000.

The case of Nahajec V Fowle, heard in the County Court in July 2017, is the first case under the 1975 Act since the Supreme Court ruling in Illott.

The facts of the case are similar, in that the deceased had 3 children and did not provide any benefit for any of them under the terms of his Will. The deceased had not had a close relationship with his children and due to this did not wish for them to benefit from his estate. Instead, he left his estate, worth in the region of £264,000, to his close friend, Mr Fowle.

The deceased’s daughter, Miss Nahajec, worked 2 jobs in the retail sector on zero hours contracts and, due to a period of ill health, had got into debt. Due to this, her income did not meet her outgoings. Miss Nahajec also had aspirations to re-train as a veterinary nurse. In light of this, she made a claim against the estate in the region of £60,000 to reflect the capital value of the maintenance she should have received from her father’s estate.

The court, therefore, had to balance this claim and the proposed needs of Miss Nahajec with those of Mr Fowle, who, despite having his own company, had also fallen on financially difficult times due to his own health issues, and the need to look after his ill wife and the deceased during his later years.

In this case, based on the facts, an award of £30,000 was made to Miss Nahajec, which was seen as reasonable based on the need for her to repay her debts and be able to undertake her studies to re-train as a veterinary nurse.

Interestingly, an out of court settlement of £22,000 had also been made to the son of the deceased. Mr Fowle, the named beneficiary of the deceased’s Will, therefore received in the region of 79% of the estate.

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This case again highlights the way in which the freedom to benefit and exclude anyone under the terms of a Will is balanced against the protection offered by the Act 1975.

As family dynamics become ever, therefore,  it is very important that people obtain legal advice when preparing their Wills to provide the best possible opportunity for their wishes to be followed post death.

At Hay & Kilner, our experienced team of solicitors in our Private Client department can assist in the preparation of Wills and provide advice about excluding beneficiaries from benefitting from an estate.

Our experienced team of solicitors in our Contentious Probate Team can also assist those who may have been excluded from benefitting from an estate.

For queries regarding Wills please contact Alice Clewes at alice.clewes@hay-kilner.co.uk

For queries regarding Contentious Probate matters please contact Lucy Gray at lucy.gray@hay-kilner.co.uk