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Choosing Not to Work, Destroys a Daughter's Will Dispute

on Friday, 13 January 2017.

Another case of a daughter disputing her parent's Will (Ames v Jones) has been in the news recently. This follows the much-publicised case of Heather Ilott's successful claim against her late mother, Melita Jackson's estate.

In this new case, Danielle Ames, aged 41, failed to persuade the court to award her any money from her late father, Michael Ames' estate after he died.

Danielle's story was that her parents, Michael and Carleen, divorced when she was young, after which Michael remarried Danielle's step mother, Elaine. They enjoyed a long marriage and on Michael's death, he left all his £700,000 estate to Elaine.

Danielle's Claim

Unhappy, Danielle applied to court for a share of the estate. All children, whether minors or adults, are automatically entitled to apply to court to request financial provision from their parents' estate, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Whether they are successful in receiving any award depends on several factors.

Danielle argued that she had two teenage children, and because she did not work, she had an income deficit of around £2000 each month. She asked for nearly half of her late father's estate - a sum of £300,000.

Elaine's Defence

Elaine, on the other hand, was 63 and in relatively poor health and could not work. Her income was largely made up of her pension and was only just sufficient to maintain her. The court agreed with Elaine that she should not be required to supplement her income by selling or re-mortgaging her home.

The court also found that the estate of £700,000 was not large enough to support both Danielle and Elaine.

The Court's Decision

At court, the Judge was not impressed with Danielle's evidence. He considered that it was exaggerated in its nature and that, as she was capable of working but chose not to as a 'lifestyle choice' she ultimately had some control over her own financial destiny.

The court ruled that Danielle should not be awarded any money from her late father's estate and Elaine retained the whole estate.

Each Case is Different

These cases turn on their own individual facts, which is neatly demonstrated by the very different results achieved by Danielle Ames in this case compared with the success achieved by Heather Ilott in her claim against her late mother's estate, which we have reported on previously.

These types of claims must be actioned promptly to succeed and require specialist advice.

Our Private Client team comprises specialist practitioners in both contentious probate and non-contentious matters. The team can provide practical advice to individuals facing these types of claims, as both claimant and defendant, having resolved many disputes over the years.

The team is experienced in advising on the pitfalls of choosing to exclude a key family member from a Will when taking Will instructions and can advise on how to reduce the risks of a potential claim being brought against an estate.

For further bespoke advice on inheritance and Will disputes, contact Julia Hardy on 0117 314 5632.

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