The widow of a man who died after having made a Will that provided only that she should have a life interest in the home they shared has won her claim that she should be beneficially entitled to a half share in the property.

The couple had fallen out and the husband amended his will to provide his wife with a legacy of £8,000 and a life interest (the right to use for her lifetime, but not legal ownership) in the house.

Under the terms of the Will, she could reside in the house for life. Were she to move out, however, and the house to be sold, she would have no right to a share in the proceeds of sale. She contested the Will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and was successful. The man’s executor, his son by a previous marriage, appealed against the decision. The relationship between the two was deeply hostile.

The estate was relatively small, consisting of the house and other assets totalling less than £30,000.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the decision of the lower court to make financial provision for the man’s widow was correct. The small size of the estate and the fact that a property sale would allow a clean break between the woman and her stepson were two factors taken into account by the Court.

When a will fails to provide adequately for a dependant of the deceased, it may be possible to claim for appropriate provision to be made. Contact our team – Cathy Owen, Lucy Williams or Richard Dundee for advice on your individual circumstances.