Soltalk July 2017 - Page 30

English inheritance rules How often have you heard the phrase he or she “left all their money to the dogs’ home?” British people do generally have testamentary freedom and can do this. The three distinct legal systems – England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – do adhere to this general principle but there are some variations in their respective laws on intestacy. daughter £143,000 so that she could buy a family home plus £20,000 in instalments or as a lump sum. The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, has overturned the Court of Appeal and restored the original award of £50,000. The court ruled that English law attaches great significance to the principle of testamentary freedom. The legislation in dealing with claims by family members or economic dependants has to limit awards to “maintenance provision”. In doing so, the factors the court will take into account are: The concept of testamentary freedom was recently tested in the case of Ilott v The Blue Cross & Others which was decided in the English Supreme Court in March of this year. Since 1938 there has been some statutory protection for a certain class of people, namely spouses, civil partners, ex-spouses, children and those who were being maintained by the deceased at the time of death. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 which is the current legislation came under scrutiny in the Ilott case. • • • • A daughter living in straitened circumstances with her husband and five children had been estranged from her mother since the age of 17. Mrs Ilott applied under this Act when her mother left no provision for her in her will and left all her money to various animal charities. In awarding the daughter £50,000 the District Judge took account of the long estrangement. • The actual and foreseeable financial resources and needs of the applicant, any other applicant and any beneficiary The obligations and responsibilities of the deceased towards any applicant or beneficiary The size and nature of the estate Any physical and mental disability of any applicant or beneficiary Any other matter, including the conduct of the applicant or any other person which the court may consider relevant To sum up, this case clearly shows that there is no automatic right to a claim on an estate solely because an adult child has been excluded from a will. The judge, Lady Hale, stated that the current law “gives no guidance in deciding whether an adult child is deserving or undeserving of reasonable maintenance.” The case went to appeal and the Court re-evaluated the claim, ordering a variation of the dispositions in the will to grant the For detailed advice on Inheritance and Wills for the United Kingdom, Spain, Holland, Belgium and France contact us on 952 527 014 or email us on info@decottalaw.net. De Cotta Law (De Cotta McKenna y Santafé) Mijas-Costa / Calahonda – Coín – Nerja – Tenerife Nerja Office: Calle Diputación 11, 29780 Nerja Tel: +34 952 527 014 - Fax: +34 952 523 428 www.decottalaw.com E-mail: nerja@decottalaw.net 28