Will contest - claim against an estate by an ex-spouse

07 March 2024

Georgia Stott, a senior associate in the team and specialist in contested wills, acted for Mr S, who was named as the sole beneficiary of the estate of his late cousin. He came to us after a claim was made against the estate by the deceased’s ex-husband.

The claim concerned the deceased’s property, which her ex-husband argued he had an interest in pursuant to a matrimonial order that had been made in the 1990s following their divorce. He also argued that the deceased had deliberately let the property fall into a state of disrepair so as to try and reduce its value, to his detriment.

Our client was keen to avoid the matter going to court. He had not expected to inherit from his cousin, and he was concerned about incurring significant costs in defending the claim.

Initially he contemplated giving up his entire interest in the estate. However, we advised him that whilst this was his prerogative, he did not need to if he did not want to. In the end, we encouraged him to accept the residue of the estate, which meant that he would receive an inheritance of over £150,000. He was willing to agree that the property be transferred to the ex-husband in its entirety. Unfortunately, the case was still not without its difficulties. The executors were concerned about actions that had been taken by the deceased’s family, including her ex-husband. As such, they were keen to ensure that all matters were wrapped up. This meant there was back and forth between all parties as we negotiated who would be responsible for paying what costs associated with the property as well as various other ancillary matters.

In the end we were able to reach agreement without any claims ever being issued. Our client was very happy with the outcome as it meant he could enjoy the inheritance he received, without having to engage in protracted litigation.

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