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The Impact of Disowning a Family Member Before Their Death

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The Impact of Disowning a Family Member Before Their Death

The  case of Wright v Waters [2014] EWHC 3614 has highlighted the effect that disowning family members can have on claims for financial provision from their estate on death.

The Facts

Mrs Waters died in 2010, she had a son and a daughter. In her Will she left the majority of the estate to her son. She did not provide for her daughter or her daughter’s children or grandchildren. At the same time as making her Will and following her solicitor’s advice, Mrs Waters wrote a letter setting out her reasons for excluding her daughter.

During her lifetime, Mrs Waters and her daughter had a dispute over money and later serious fallings out on more personal matters which led to the daughter writing a letter to her mother. The letter was sent 9 years before Mrs Waters’ death and effectively disowned her, stating that she does not wish to have any communication with her in the future and wishing her dead. Apart from a short telephone call after this letter there was no further contact between them for 9 years.

Following Mrs Water’s death her daughter claimed against her estate. One of which was a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Legal Position and Court’s Decision

Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 certain family members and dependants of the deceased can contest the deceased’s Will on the basis that is does not make reasonable financial provision for them.

When considering the daughter’s claim the judge considered her conduct and behaviour towards Mrs Waters, in particular the letter sent to her, and concluded in his judgement that this conduct outweighed all the factors of her claim. It was therefore concluded that the daughter’s claim failed.

Learning points

This case reinforces the importance of obtaining professional advice when preparing your Will particularly if you are not making provision for your family. As mentioned above some people can bring a claim against your estate if they believe they have been inadequately provided for. Although, you cannot stop the family member from making a claim there are certain things you can do to reduce the chances of them succeeding.

Please contact me on 01604 828282 or at Ellen.Stiles@franklins-sols.co.uk if you would like to discuss your own situation if you are in a serious dispute with a family member or find yourself in a similar situation to Mrs Waters’ daughter.

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