Our contested Trusts & Probate Team recently obtained a successful Judgment for a client at the conclusion of a lengthy, and highly contentious probate claim.
The success provided a financial settlement for our client’s needs-based claim, debts incurred due to the defence of the proceedings and costs.
The client’s long-term partner with whom she had co-habitated for 16 years died in April 2019 leaving no Will. His Estate, under intestacy rules, passed to his siblings. Our client brought a claim against his Estate based on the fact that no reasonable financial provision had been made for her.
The Court Hearing
The case was heard before Her Honour Judge Backhouse sitting in Mayor’s & City County Court. The Judge was asked to consider our client’s claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975, together with an award for an element of her success fee under her Conditional Fee Agreement following the Judgment in Hirachand v Hirachand (CA October 2021).
The defendants as administrators and beneficiaries to the Deceased’s Estate disputed her claim arguing the client had adequate means from assets and property abroad and the ability to earn an income. At the conclusion of a three-day trial and, after assessing our client’s financial needs and resources, the Court assessed whether reasonable financial provision had been made.
Having considered the factors to which the Court should have regard in exercising its powers, our client was awarded £40,000 for her future housing needs and the purchase of essential items. In addition, she was awarded £20,000 towards her success fee under her Conditional Fee arrangement with her lawyers and recovery of her legal costs.
This Judgment follows the Court of Appeal decision in Hirachand. In this case the court ruled that when there was a claimant who has no alternative means of funding litigation other than a Conditional Fee Agreement and is left facing a debt liability at conclusion of a successful case which the Court can in whole or in part make provision for in its needs-based calculation.
This article is prepared by Kerry Hull who represented the claimant with the assistance of Counsel Julia Beer and Sarah Walker of Selborne Chambers. Pinney Talfourd have a team of specialists in this area and can assist on other matters relevant to contested trust and probate and Court of Protection matters.
This article was written by Kerry Hull, Solicitor in our Contested Wills and Probate Team. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of February 2022.