Beg v Beg: High Court awards widow £80,000 from brother-in-law’s inheritance

23rd November 2021 Will Disputes

On 30th September 2021, the High Court handed down judgment in the case of Beg v Beg, 2021 EWHC 2598 Ch.

Background

The deceased, Ehsen Beg, died in October 2019, having left a Will dated 18 October 2010. Said Will bequeathed his entire estate to his widow, Amina Beg.

Unfortunately, a dispute arose surrounding the former matrimonial home that Ehsen and Amina resided in before his death. The Property was registered in the names of Ehsen and his brother, Arif Beg, having been bequeathed to them following the death of their mother in 2009. However, clarity was required as to whether the brothers had held the property as beneficial joint-tenants or alternatively, as beneficial tenants in common.

Arif claimed that the property was held under a joint tenancy, and thus he would therefore automatically inherit his late brother’s share through survivorship (outside his brother’s Will and estate). On the other hand, Amina was of the opposite view, arguing that the brothers had held the property as tenants in common, and so her late husband's share would pass to her under the Will.

Furthermore, if Amina’s argument failed, she also brought a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This claim argued that her late husband’s share of the property should be brought back to his estate and transferred to her by way of provision under the Act.

Ruling

Following detailed analysis, Cooke HHJ ruled that the Property was held by the brothers as a beneficial joint tenancy, and thus the late Ehsan Beg’s one-half beneficial interest passed automatically by survivorship to his brother, Arif Beg.

His Honour Judge Cooke then proceeded to consider the claim brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. In his Will, Ehsan intended to provide for his widow by ensuring she had a home to live in. Unfortunately, due to the decision that the Property was held as a beneficial joint tenancy, this did not materialise and there was no reasonable provision for Amina.

The Judge noted that Ehsan owned a second home at his death, which was rented out to tenants and mortgaged in the sum of £80,000. In order to occupy the rental property, Amina would have to end the present tenancy and thus lose the rental income that met the mortgage payments. Unfortunately, her income from benefits was not enough to repay the balance of the mortgage, and she had no other assets that would allow her to do the same.

Cooke HHJ therefore made an order that the late Ehsan Beg’s joint interest in the property was to be brought back into his net estate to the value of £80,000. This money was directed to pay off the mortgage on the rented-out Property, so that Amina had a home to live-in, mortgage free.

Significance

The judgment is significant in demonstrating the broad scope of the Court's powers when it comes to claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, particularly in relation to questions surrounding joint-tenancies and tenancies-in-common. Clearly, the Court will want to find practical solutions in difficult cases such as the one above, even if this includes bringing beneficial joint property that passes under survivorship back into the estate of the deceased.

For more information on making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, or to speak to a member of our expert Contentious Wills and Probate team at JMW Solicitors in relation to any other matter, please call JMW on 0345 241 5305. Alternatively, you can fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you at the earliest opportunity.

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Jac Evans is a Trainee Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Trainee Solicitors department

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