31 December 2012
Mediation success on Inheritance Act dispute
This case involved a complicated mix of claims, including an Inheritance Act claim and a number of associated proprietary claims brought by the Deceased's former lover and companion against his estate.
We acted for the Deceased's children, who were the administrators and residuary beneficiaries of substantial the Estate under the intestacy rules.
The claimant said she had lived with the Deceased as his wife for a period of 30 years prior to his death and that she had a proprietary interest in a number of the Deceased's assets, including properties in London and Italy. Alternatively, she alleged that she had been maintained by the Deceased for many years and immediately prior to his death, to the extent of about £8,000 per month. She valued her claim in excess of £1.5million.
We resisted the claim on behalf of the children on the basis that, although the Deceased had enjoyed some sort of romantic relationship with the Claimant in the past, he used to have a number of different companions at any one time. His relationship with the claimant had lasted nowhere near 30 years and in any event had come to an end when he fell out with her in 1998.
Even if the Deceased and the Claimant did live together as husband and wife at some point, they did not fulfil the requirements of the Act in the two years immediately prior to the Deceased's death. In terms of the maintenance claim, the children contended that any payments were made in consideration of care services.
We engaged the Claimant's solicitors in pre action correspondence and dealt with a detailed and vast disclosure request from the Claimant, which required an analysis of all of the Deceased's paper files and his eight computers. We formulated the estate's defence to the various claims, based on the extensive documentary evidence, which we were able to recover from the Deceased's computers.
The claimant proposed mediation as a means of trying to resolve the dispute and in December last year, we prepared for and attended mediation with the children. The result was a favourable settlement for the estate, which disposed of all of the claimant's claims.