In Search Of “Something More” In Claims Under The Inheritance Act

Higgins v Morgan & Ors [2021] EWHC 2846 (Ch)

The recent case of Higgins v Morgan and Others is a great recent example of a modern claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Case background

The claim was brought by Barrie Higgins, the stepson of the Deceased, who had died intestate in 2017, leaving an estate of around £200,000 which was to pass to his cousins. The rules of intestacy made no provision for Barrie.

Barrie was in a precarious financial position, exacerbated by Covid-19, and applied under the Act for reasonable financial provision for his maintenance from the Estate. His claim was defended but the Court awarded him an interim payment of a £4,000 lump sum and £1,000 a month until trial and then at the trial HHJ Cawson QC ordered a further £55,000 be paid which included a proportion of the success fees charged to Barrie by his Solicitors, a decision supported by the later recent findings of the Court of Appeal in Hirachand v Hirachand [2021] EWCA Civ 1498.

One of the interesting issues in making the award that is worth taking a closer look at is the discussion of the idea raised by the Supreme Court in the leading case Ilott v The Blue Cross and others (No. 2) [2018] AC 545 that a Claimant under the Act (other than a spouse or civil partner) cannot just show that they:

  1. Fall into one of the categories to apply under that Act; and
  2. Have a significant financial need and expect provision from the Estate.

A Claimant will needs to prove “something more”.  An example given by the Supreme Court being “some form of moral claim” owed by the Deceased to the Claimant.

In this case, the Judge found that there was a close relationship between Barrie and the Deceased, such that the Deceased helped Barrie in particular times of financial need and specifically had promised to give him £10,000 to buy equipment for his wife’s business not long before he died. Also of relevance was that there was no such similar relationship or obligation from the Deceased towards his cousins, the beneficiaries of his estate. The Judge considered this sufficient to amount to “something more” and was able in the circumstances to make the award that he did.

Higgins MorganHow can Nelsons help?

Lewis Addison is a Partner in our expert Dispute Resolution team, specialising in Will, Trust and Probate disputes.

If you are concerned that an estate of a loved one is to be governed by a Will you consider may have been forged, we are able to advise in relation to a claim to challenge that Will and have it declared invalid.

For more information, please contact Lewis or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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