Adult Daughter Fails to Locate Father’s Last Will but Wins1975 Act Claim

Mr S died in March 2011 leaving a Will dated July 1999. Under the terms of his Will he appointed his second wife as his executor and sole beneficiary of his estate which was valued for probate in 2011 at £450,000.

His daughter appointed us to represent her in the inheritance dispute.

It was the daughter’s case that the 1999 Will was not the deceased’s last Will and that he told her on several occasions that he had executed a later Will in 2010 which made provision for her. Unfortunately, it was not possible to locate this later Will despite extensive searches and so we advised the daughter to proceed with a claim under section 1(1)(c) of the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975, known as the 1975 Act for short.

The daughter relied upon the following subsections of section 3 of the 1975 Act:-

  • 3(1)(a)- her financial need for provision as compared to;
  • 3(1)(c)- The wife’s lesser need for provision;
  • 3(1)(e)- the estate was of a sufficient size to make provision for her
  • 3(1)(f)- her disabilities necessitated that sufficient provision should be made for her; and
  • 3(1)(d) and (g)- the deceased’s conduct in promising her provision from his estate created an obligation and responsibility upon him to make financial provision for her.

Court proceedings were commenced but it was not necessary for them to be served upon the Defendants as the ’75 Act claim was settled by negotiation. Our client received a £25,000 global sum, inclusive of her legal costs.

This is an example of a testator promising their children provision from their estate (which their children then rely on) but on their death it becomes clear that their Will is either out of date or at complete odds with the assurances. Whilst Mr S may have felt he was doing the right thing by making such assurances and not causing a family dispute during his lifetime, it highlights the importance of making all parties aware of your true intentions to avoid your estate being consumed by legal costs when an inheritance dispute arises.

The case also highlights the importance of making sure that your will is kept in a safe and accessible place and that someone you trust knows where to find it. At Slee Blackwell our Wills and Probate Administration team offer to store Wills completely free of charge.