Under English law a person is entitled to make a Will and dispose of their estate as they wish. This freedom is however fettered by the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 which allows certain classes of people to challenge a Will if it has not made reasonable financial provision for them. Adult children fall within the class of people who can challenge a Will.
The case below was reported in the media and it sets out details of a case where a daughter, who was estranged from her father, successfully challenged her father’s Will.
Nahajec -v- Fowle
In this case Stanley Nahajec left his entire estate, which was valued at £265,710 to his friend, Stephen Fowle.
Stanley’s daughter, Elena Nahajec, challenged her father’s Will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 on the grounds that it did not make reasonable financial provision for her.
Elena was an adult (31 years of age) and was independent. She was not well off but was not on the breadline either. She had been estranged from her father for 18 years. She claimed the absence of a relationship was her father’s choice and he cut himself off from her. Elena claimed that her letters went unanswered. There was a short reconciliation but Elena was again rebuffed by her father as he did not like her boyfriend. Stanley was referred to in the judgment as being stubborn and intransient.
The Court looked at both Stephen Fowle’s (the beneficiary) and Elena’s needs and resources and aspirations and found that the estate was sufficient to accommodate everyone’s needs. The Court was also persuaded by the fact that Elena wanted to undertake further training as a veterinary nurse and that would have a cost to it. The Court therefore ordered that Elena receive £30,000 from her father’s estate.
Challenging a Will
For more information on other ways in which a Will can be challenged see Challenging a Will.
If you have been left out of a Will and would like advice on your rights please contact Jacqueline Penfold, on 01323 727321 or use the enquiry form below.
Please note, this article does not constitute legal advice.