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Are children entitled to inherit from their parent’s estate?

Are children entitled to inherit from their parent’s estate?

Are children entitled to inherit from their parent’s estate?

Modern families are often complicated things and one recent case to come before the court illustrates this perfectly and indeed shows why it is important to make a Will and keep it up to date.

In the case of Ubbi V Ubbi, a claim was brought on behalf of two children against a gentleman’s estate where he had made a Will but not updated it in recent years and it is fair to say that it is unusual for a case like this to actually come before a court.

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The Facts of the case

Mr & Mrs Ubbi had met and married in 1987 and Mrs Ubbi had a child by a previous relationship who Mr Ubbi brought up as his own.

In 1988 the couple started a pharmacy business where they both worked and in 2000 purchased a marital home together.

The mother of the claimant children started working at the pharmacy and she and Mr Ubbi had begun an affair which resulted in the birth of the first child in 2012.

Mrs Ubbi became aware of the affair and the deceased began to split his time between the marital home with his first family and with the claimant family.

Mr Ubbi and his wife owned a flat jointly and in 2013 he moved his new family into this property and following the birth of a second child moved in with them and where they continued to live at the date of the hearing.

Mrs Ubbi began divorce proceedings in 2015 after obtaining legal advice although by the time of her husband’s death the divorce had not been finalised.

Some years before Mr Ubbi had made a Will but had not updated it following the birth of the children and his subsequent family arrangements.

Both families enjoyed a good standard of living with Mrs Ubbi continuing to own and work in the Pharmacy and owning property in her own right.

The claimant also owned property in the UK and abroad which gave her an income and she had a good job.

The claimant was seeking a sum of £848,000 for maintenance, housing, care and private education whilst Mrs Ubbi disputed this saying that the sum should be a more modest £254,000.

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The court ruling

In Ubbi Vs Ubbi (2015) the court looked at the facts of the case and made its judgement.

Mrs Ubbi asked the court to award a value based on the average cost of raising a child and to take account of how the case would be treated if pursued under the Children Act 1989 however the court disagreed saying “the fact that the children were born within or outside of a marriage is irrelevant. How he or she was treated by the deceased, however, may be relevant”.

The court awarded a sum of £70,950 which would allow them to move into a rented four-bedroom home. This would allow space for the children and a live-in nanny whilst they were in primary school allowing the mother to continue to work.

Once the children had moved to secondary school the sum was reduced to allow a three-bedroom home to be rented.

The mother of the children said that she and Mr Ubbi had discussed sending the children to private school and that the court should award an amount in regards to fees.

The judge, however, disagreed saying that “I therefore find that there was no expectation that the children would have been educated privately. Furthermore I do not accept that the provision of private education is a reasonable financial provision for the children”.

In addition, the claimants had wanted provision for a live-in nanny to allow the mother to continue to work and thus fund the lifestyle of the children.

The agreed with this and awarded £234,234 to include the costs of the nanny and other childcare expenses with the judge saying that this “is justified on the evidence and represents reasonable financial provision for the children”.

The total amount awarded was £386,290.

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What can we take from this?

It is interesting to note that the provisions of the Will were largely ignored as the court took into account the things that had happened to the family since the original document was produced.

Instead, the Judge looked at how the deceased treated all of the children in the case and what would represent a reasonable outcome saying that “I therefore conclude that, whilst testamentary freedom is of course a fundamental right, on these facts the significance of the provisions of the Will have limited bearing on the case.”.

We can also see that the marriage of the deceased and the lineage of each of the children made little difference to the actual outcome.

Again the judge looked at the evidence and made a reasonable decision noting that “Lord Hughes in Illot v The Blue Cross reiterated that the level at which maintenance may be provided is flexible and falls to be assessed on the facts of each case. It is not limited to subsistence level”.

The important take away from this is that a Will needs to be updated regularly to take into account any changes in circumstances that may lead a court to see the Last Testament to be largely irrelevant.

We will never know what Mr Ubbi would have wanted to happen in this case as he simply didn’t leave an updated version of his Will and consequently the family left behind and the judge had to make the best guess they could.

Without doubt not updating his Will, in this case, will have cost the family a lot of money and caused heartache and upset for all those concerned.

Need to write a Will? Write your’s on the Smart Will App in 10 minutes for just £19 or £29 for couples.

 

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