Inheritance Act Cases: Charity Begins at Home?
Back in March, I wrote about the case of Illott v Mitson, in which I made the point that it merely served to reiterate the existing law under the Inheritance Act. Four months have elapsed since that case was decided- but we find ourselves reminded of the point once again.
Nahajec v Fowle is an Inheritance Act case decided recently here in Leeds. The judge in the case awarded Ms Nahajec £30,000 from her late father’s estate, despite the fact that he had disinherited all of his children some years before.
Essentially, this case is just restating (as Illott did) the existing law. People do have testamentary freedom, but it should not be forgotten that various people can claim on an estate- and each case can be decided on its own facts.
The judges deciding these cases have wide discretion, and it could be said that essentially each one turns on its own evidence (and comes down to something of a popularity contest.) There are lessons to be learned both for those making wills and those trying to challenge them.
If you want to exclude a child or other relative from your will, you will need to ensure that:
1. Your will has been properly made;
2. You give full justification as to why it was made in such a way, and the decision behind it.
If you find yourself involved in an Inheritance Act dispute, it is crucial for your case to be put forward in such a way that you ultimately persuade the judge to favour you over your opponent. You only need look at the recently decided cases for proof of this. The onus is on you to prove your case.
What matters here is that yet again, we are reminded of the importance of a well-drafted will that will stand up to scrutiny. If you don’t have a will, or wish to revisit an existing will, contact us for a no-obligation chat on 0113 284 5000 and put your mind at rest.