In the modern world, having children from previous relationships, divorces and unmarried cohabiting spouses are common place.
A recent case involves a scenario where all of these eventualities occurred over the course of deceased banker Dr Kahrmann’s life. When set in such a context, an estate worth several million was almost certain to lead to a dispute.
Dr Kahrmann had four children – two from his first wife who he divorced in the early 1990’s and two from a subsequent cohabiting relationship with Hilary Harrison-Morgan.
Dr Kahrmann was a very wealthy man and whilst he was cohabiting with Ms Harrison-Morgan and their two children they lived in a plush London house.
They separated and Dr Kahrmann left the UK never to return. He then subsequently died in 2014. Around that time, a developer offered to buy the London property. The offer, however, was contingent on the developer being given vacant possession, which could only be achieved by Ms Harrison-Morgan vacating the property. To complicate matters further Dr Kahrmann died during negotiations.
Ms Harrison-Morgan alleged/alleges that a deal was made between herself and the executors, whereby the profits were to be split between Harrison-Morgan and Kahrmann’s four children.
The deal consisted of a £4.4 million profit and these sums were split between Ms Harrison-Morgan and the four children. One of the children, however, decided to challenge the agreement.
At first instance, Ms Harrison-Morgan was successful in her claim. The case was appealed, however, and an appeal Judge has recently overturned the decision.
With now around a million pounds worth of legal costs, this decision has left Ms Harrison-Morgan in a position where she has been ordered to repay the £2.2 million that she received in addition to costs.
Given the high stakes involved in this case, it is perhaps unsurprising that the case is now being appealed to the Supreme Court, so watch this space!
The above referred case highlights how valuable estates can generate costly disputes and how making the wrong decision in terms of fighting the case to a conclusion can have catastrophic financial consequences. It is therefore essential that early legal advice is sought.
How can Nelsons help?
If you have any queries regarding the points discussed in this article, please get in touch with Kevin or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.