Earlier this year, The Supreme Court gave its final decision on the infamous case of Illott v Mitson. This judgment was described as a landmark decision, providing clarity from the Supreme Court on the key issues which the Courts should have regard to when deciding reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision and Family Dependants) Act 1975.
Following the ruling in Illott, many raised the question of how this would affect future cases of this kind. No sooner had this question been asked, judgement was handed down in the more recent case of Nahajec v Fowle  EW Misc 11 CC.
The claimant, Elena Nahajec was an estranged daughter of the deceased, Stanley Nahajec who died in 2015. Miss Nahajec and her two siblings had almost no contact with their father for several years preceding his death. As a result, Mr Nahajec made no provision under his Will for his children and stated in a further letter of wishes that he had not seen or heard from his children for 18 years. He instead left his entire estate to his friend Mr Fowle.
Akin to Illoyt, Miss Nahajec brought a claim under the 1975 Act for reasonable financial provision to be made from her father’s estate. She stated to the Court that she had aspiration to become a Veterinary Nurse, for which there would be training costs. Further, she added that the reason for the breakdown in her relationship with her father was mainly due to his behaviour. She alleged that she had tried to reconcile with her father but that her attempts to rekindle a relationship were rejected by him.
The case was heard at Leeds County Court by His Honour Judge Saffman.
In his judgement, HHJ Saffman considered the case of Illott but made it clear that his decision was based on the considerations of the 1975 Act as applied to the facts of this case.
He saw that Miss Nahjec was leading “a rather frugal existence” and was “far from well off”. He also accepted that she was making every attempt to better her situation by undertaking training to become a Veterinary Nurse- something he acknowledged as falling within the definition of ‘maintenance’ post Illott.
Having considered the witness evidence and facts of the case, HHJ Saffman held that the Will failed to make reasonable financial provision, awarding Miss Nahajec with £30,000 from the estate stating:
“£30,000 is my best estimate of the capitalised costs of maintenance for a reasonable time going forward to take into account the possibility, albeit contingent, of the claimant undertaking a course which ultimately results in her becoming a veterinary nurse”
So what does this tell us?
This case merely highlights the fact that it is still possible for an adult child of a deceased parent to claim under the 1975 Act and for such claims to be successful if they can show circumstances that warrant provision being made. When determining what reasonable provision is, the courts will continue to take into account a whole range of factors. These cases are often full of complexities and it is vital that you seek expert legal advice.
Our specialist team at Taylor & Emmet, led by Alex Watkinson, Partner, regularly act for claimants, defendants and Executors in cases involving the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and all manner of Will, Trust and inheritance disputes.