Developments for Cohabitees in Inheritance Act Claims

Developments for Cohabitees in Inheritance Act Claims

On 29 March 2018, the High Court gave judgment in the case of Thomspon v Raggett [2018] EWHC 688 (ch). This case signals an important development for cohabitees who have been left out of their partner’s Will, or who have not been left enough under the Will.

Joan Thompson took action against the Estate of Wynford Hodge. Mr Hodge and Ms Thompson had been in a relationship for 42 years. In his Will, Mr Hodge left his £1.5 million estate to various friends and his tenants. He excluded Ms Thomspon and he set out his reasons for excluding her in a letter of wishes. Ms Thompson took action against the Estate for monies under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

His Honour Judge Harman QC ruled in favour of Ms Thompson, finding that she should be given reasonable provision for her maintenance. She was awarded a sum just short of £189,000 in addition to one of Mr Hodge’s properties worth £225,000. This property had been intended as a retirement home for Ms Thompson and Mr Hodge. The Court made reference to the recent, high profile decision of Illot v The Blue Cross and others [2017] UKSC 17 in which the Supreme Court “emphasised that the statutory power is to provide maintenance, not to confer capital.” Importantly, the Court chose to transfer the property to Ms Thompson outright, rather than award a life interest in the property. This decision was in part due to the long period of the cohabitation.

If you have been affected by any of the matters raised in this article, please contact Jade Brooks on 01494 478 623 or email jkb@blasermills.co.uk