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Stepmother Comes Out on Top in £1 Million Will Dispute

It is not often you hear a judge using the phrase “gilded the lily”. In the interesting case below however, the Judge found that the claimant was not entitled to be provided for by her father’s Estate even though he provided her with financial assistance when he was alive.

The daughter was of working age but ‘chose’ not to be employed as a lifestyle choice. The step mother (who inherited all of the Estate) was of ill health and was not of working age.

The decision is fair but I am fairly surprised the daughter did not obtain at least some form of settlement from this claim.

Children and other dependants have a right to be reasonably provided for in the wills of those on whom they rely for financial support. However, in one case, a judge ruled that that principle could not benefit an adult daughter who chose not to work and whose father had been generous to her when he was alive.

The father, whose estate was valued at just over £1 million, had cut his daughter, his only child, out of his will and left everything to her stepmother, to whom he had been married for 30 years. The daughter, a mother of two, claimed that his decision had left her and her family in dire financial straits and sought reasonable provision from his estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. She valued her claim at about £300,000.

In dismissing her case, however, the judge found that she was capable of work and that her unemployment was a lifestyle choice. She had exaggerated the strength of her relationship with her father, who had divorced her mother when she was very young, and had gilded the lily in claiming that he had assured her of a substantial inheritance.

Her father had provided her with generous financial support over the years, including setting her up in business at one stage, and the whole of his estate was in any event required to provide for the reasonable needs of the stepmother, who was in poor health and had reached the end of her working life.

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MLA 2017 18 Shortlisted 2