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CONTESTING A WILL – SNIPPETS OF GOLD V CURTIS

Will claim Solicitors, specialist no win no fee will dispute and will contest Solicitors, provide snippets from Gold v Curtis in relation to claims by adult children under the ’75 Inheritance Act.

Claims under section 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

We have previously considered how will contest and will dispute claims by adult children under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (see https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1975/63) can be made and why they are so often quite difficult to win (https://www.willclaim.com/contesting-a-will-does-an-adult-child-have-abetter-claim-against-a-neglectful-parent/ and also https://www.willclaim.com/how-to-contesta-will-how-hard-is-it-for-an-adult-child-to-bring-a-claim-for-financial-provision-under-theinheritance-provision-for-family-and-dependants-act-1975/).

What happened in Gold v Curtis 2005 WTLR 673?

Gold v Curtis 2005 WTLR 673 was a will contest or will dispute claim by an adult child (who was one of two children) of the deceased under the ’75 Act; it was a claim for financial provision only where no other case (for instance against the legal validity of the Will) was made. In this instance he was a 58 year old man with mental health issues (depression), who had two adult children, one with a psychotic condition and who was dependant on him. He was not in great shape financially. In contrast his sister, the deceased’s only beneficiary under a home-made Will was unmarried and with no dependants and had assets of £1.1m. The deceased’s estate was also substantial; valued at £870,000.

Estrangement didn’t matter

It is quite often the case in this type of Will dispute that some estrangement exists. In this will claim too, there was estrangement between the Claimant and his mother (the deceased) albeit with some reconciliation towards the end of her life. Master Bowman who heard the claim found:

“In any event such family discord does not make it reasonable to fail to make provision for a child in need”

And later:

“As was nicely put on behalf of Malcolm (Gold) just as a close relationship between mother and son would not of itself entitle the son to provision from the estate, so a distant relationship does not disentitle him from provision from her estate”

Whilst one should note that the Supreme Court in Ilott v Mitson 2017 (https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2015-0203.html ) found that estrangement was a relevant factor, it is not necessarily the complete defence in the face of competing factors such as financial need and the defendant’s own resources. As per Lord Hughes:

These matters of conduct were not irrelevant, but care must be taken to avoid making awards under the 1975 Act primarily rewards for good behaviour on the part of the claimant or penalties for bad on the part of the deceased. It is clear that the District Judge gave effect to his findings as to the causes of the estrangement in allowing the claim, as he was entitled to do, but it does not follow that the relationship between mother and daughter was of insignificant weight to the exercise, and he rightly held that it was not.

It is interesting if not downright significant that these words, in particular the comment that care must be taken to avoid making awards under the 1975 Act primarily rewards for good behaviour do mirror to a large extent Master Bowman’s Judgment in Gold.

Care for a disabled child (the grandchild of the deceased) does enhance financial needs

Under section 3(6) of the Act, the court must take into account in considering the applicant’s or will dispute and will contest claimant’s financial needs, his financial obligations and responsibilities:

(6)In considering the financial resources of any person for the purposes of this section the court shall take into account his earning capacity and in considering the financial needs of any person for the purposes of this section the court shall take into account his financial obligations and responsibilities.

It follows that where a will claim or will contest claim applicant under the Act is looking after a disabled child, his financial needs are enhanced. This was the position in Gold v Curtis, because Malcolm Gold (the applicant), was looking after his disabled daughter, Adele, who was likely to remain dependent on him by reason of her mental disability. This then increased his financial needs.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Gold won his claim.

If you consider any of these facts and matters are likely to apply to you, or you would like to ask us for more information about our no win no fee arrangement, or you simply want us to assess your claim, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential no strings chat.

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