Inheritance – what’s love got to do with it?

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Inheritance – what’s love got to do with it?

It is estimated that 1 in 3 families in the UK are a “blended family”. Usually person A (who we will call Tina) has children from their first marriage; she goes on to divorce, and enters into a relationship with person B (who we will call Fred) and they remain unmarried.

Let’s assume that Tina has been living with Fred for over 10 years in a property she purchased solely. Tina is a successful popstar and Fred, a tradesman who contributes only a small percentage to their combined income. Fred assists Tina when she goes on tour, much to the dismay of his employer! Tina always said to Fred “you can have whatever you want” and that she had a “whole lotta love” for him. Following Tina’s death, Fred has been struggling with his mental health, and his boss has informed him that unless his mental health improves quickly, they will have to let him go.

What about Fred?

We know that marriage revokes a will (unless it was made in contemplation of marriage), and so, on Tina’s death, her children will inherit her entire estate in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.

The starting point is that Fred would be left with nothing, despite living in the home he shared with Tina for over 10 years. Tina’s children would apply for probate, sell the property, and Fred would be left homeless.

Despite Fred’s protests and pleas for mercy, Tina’s children have declared that “absolutely nothing will change!” and they will be selling the house and distributing the estate assets between themselves.

So, what’s love got to do with it?

Thankfully for Fred, Section 1(1)(A) of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 makes provision for those who were living together during the whole period of two years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died as if they were a married couple or civil partners.

Whilst Fred would be eligible to bring a claim, it will be for him to show that he requires reasonable financial provision from Tina’s estate for his maintenance.

Fred should consult with a solicitor as soon as possible. His solicitors will consider the following:

  1. Fred’s financial resources and needs. More specifically, the fact that Fred is in a financially precarious position and could lose his job in the foreseeable future.
  2. The financial resources and needs of Tina’s children.
  3. The size and nature of Tina’s estate. Tina’s estate is far from modest, and in the multimillions! The Court is likely to find it much easier to make an award without prejudicing the position of Tina’s children, given the estate is significant in value.
  4. Any obligations and responsibilities Tina had towards Fred or the children. Tina had been housing Fred for over 10 years, and he was very much reliant on her income which contributed to their extravagant lifestyle. Tina knew that Fred could not afford their lifestyle and regularly told him that she would always be there to provide for him, given that Fred also sacrificed some of his career to go on tour with Tina. As a result, his employer has a much shorter fuse with Fred when it comes to absences.
  5. Any other matter including the conduct of the applicant or any other person which the court may consider relevant.

Fred should act quickly, as he will only have 6 months from the date that Tina’s children are issued with the Grant of Letters of Administration to issue a claim under the 1975 Act.

Talk to us

If you require legal advice following the death of a loved one, please do not hesitate to contact JMW’s Contentious Trusts and Probate Team. You can contact the team by calling 0345 872 6666 or by completing our online enquiry form.

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