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Inheritance and the Forfeiture Rule

assisted-death
A terminally ill man recently visited Dignitas to die, accompanied by his wife. However, the Forfeiture Act 1982 lays down a simple rule that an individual cannot benefit from someone's death if they unlawfully aided, abetted or procured the death. We look how this recent High Court case challenged the Act. Mr Ninian had progres...
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1975 Hits

Domicile for the purpose of an Inheritance Act Claim

Domicile for Inheritance Tax
When making an Inheritance claim, the domicile country of the deceased is an essential element of the Court's decision.​ Various eligible individuals identified within s1 of the I(PFD)Act 1975 may apply to the Court for an Order for a share and disposition from a deceased's estate where, either through their Will or by intestacy, no such reasonable...
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Adult Children Inheritance Claims - Reasonable Provision refused in Court Case

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If you are not a beneficiary in your parents’ Will, why would a court automatically grant you any of their estate? A recent case suggests they may not...

When 41-year-old Danielle Ames' father passed away having cut her out of his £1 million Will, she brought a claim against his Estate. The Estate included the £650,000 family home in Hertfordshire and a number of other assets.

Ms Ames argued that no reasonable financial provision had been made for her. She claimed she was dependent upon her father and entitled to a share of his Estate which had been left entirely to her stepmother, Elaine Ames.

Miss Ames expressed surprise at having been cut out of her father’s Will but Judge Halpern QC determined she had exaggerated the strength of her relationship with her father and she had no moral claim on his money. The Judge told Miss Ames at Central London County Court that her lack of employment was a lifestyle choice and when claiming that her father had assured her that “it will be all yours one day” she was “gilding the lily”. Judge Halpern decided that Mr Ames’ widow with whom he had lived with for over 30 years required the entirety of the Estate to lead a comfortable retirement. The Judge commented that Mrs Ames was not living the highlife and needed the whole of the husband’s Estate to meet her reasonable needs.

Statutory claims

A court will generally try to uphold the terms of a valid Will, but there is a recognised statutory claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 for a child to make a claim on a parents Estate whether by having been excluded from the Will or under intestacy provisions. Such claims do not prohibit adult children, and in a case where reasonable financial provision has not been made, the Inheritance Act enables the court to vary the distribution of assets between potential dependants.

There appears to be no good reason why Miss Ames was unable to secure employment, suffering from no disability. The Judge was of the view Miss Ames had failed to discharge the burden proving that she was unable to obtain work.

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Why are inheritance disputes on the rise?

coffin
Pinney Talfourd's Contested Probate Solicitor, Kerry Hull explains that the rise in inheritance disputes is due to a number of factors. 

Inheritance disputes were once considered the preserve of the super-wealthy or famous but in recent years the number of children disputing their parent’s estate in the High Court has risen by 11% to 116 in 2015 from 104 the previous year according to The Times.

Kerry Hull, contested wills and probate solicitor at Pinney Talfourd in Essex explains that the rise in inheritance disputes is due to a number of factors.

The use of home-made wills is a major contributor, but the rise in these types of disputes also reflects the changing nature of our society’, says Kerry.

Higher rates of divorce, remarriage and cohabitation, combined with an increase in the value of estates, longer life expectancy and a greater awareness of rights, means that relatives are less willing to do nothing when their inheritance is taken from them.

An inheritance dispute can take any number of forms, from concerns that a will has been incorrectly made or forged, to a dependant believing that they have been unfairly left out or not received what they were entitled to.

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