Quickdraw: the importance of acting fast in court proceedings

Quickdraw: the importance of acting fast in court proceedings

The case of 52-year-old Rosita Hendry, a Filipina widow who turned down a £73,000 settlement and left Court with nothing has made headline news. 

Rosita and Michael Hendry met in the Philippines and married in 2003. They entered into a pre-nuptial agreement to protect Michael’s assets for his children. Rosita agreed that if she and Michael divorced, she would receive £10,000 and the cost of a flight home to the Philippines. 

16 years later the marriage ended. Michael wrote Rosita out of his Will and the parties began divorce proceedings. Before the divorce was finalised Michael died.

Michael had left his entire estate to his two children. The children offered Rosita her £10,000 and a ticket home in honour of the pre-nuptial agreement. Rosita rejected this, and she rejected their later offer of one third of Michael’s estate which would have given her £73,333. Instead, she took the matter to court and made a claim for 50% of the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

But Rosita had delayed making a claim. She had 6 months to start Court proceedings from the time a Grant of Probate was issued. She started her claim after the 6 months. The Judge told Rosita that although her case had merit, she had brought it too late and it therefore failed.

There are many lessons that can be learnt from this case, including:

Beware of the time limits – Make sure you know the time limits that are applicable. Even if you have a good case, if you miss Court deadlines your claim will fail, as Rosita found out the hard way.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements – It is advisable to consider creating a pre-nuptial agreement when you marry, particularly if it is not your first marriage, or if there are children from other relationships. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement will define separate and joint assets and will set out how those assets will be divided in the event of a divorce.

Update your Will as soon as you start divorce proceedings – A divorce will not fully revoke your Will, however, your ex-spouse will no longer be able to benefit from your Will as a Beneficiary, or act as an Executor or Trustee. Therefore, if you are planning on starting divorce proceedings, it is important to revise your Will quickly, to prevent your ex-partner from benefitting from your Estate if you pass away before the divorce has been finalised. 

How Blaser Mills Law can help:

Our Family and Divorce team can help you to protect your assets on marriage or in a civil partnership. If you would like more information on how to protect your assets, please contact Jolene Hutchison on 01494 478603 or email jfh@blasermills.co.uk.

The Inheritance Act 1975 was introduced to help those who were wrongly left out of a Will, or whose inheritance was not adequate to provide for them, or when a person close to them has died without making a Will. If you think you have a claim, please contact out team of experienced Dispute Resolution solicitors are available to help. Please contact us on disputes@blasermills.co.uk.