Woman wins right to claim a share of former husband’s estate

A woman who was divorced but still living with her former husband when he died has won the right to claim a share of his estate, despite opposition from his sons.

The case involved a man who had made a will in 1980 leaving all his estate to his two sons. In 1982, he divorced his wife and they both agreed to a consent order that neither of them should be entitled to claim against the other’s estate unless they remarried.

They never did remarry but were living together at the time of the husband’s death. The wife brought a claim for a share of his estate on the basis that although they had not remarried, they had been living together in the same house as husband and wife. She submitted that this entitled her to inherit as a cohabitant.

The man’s sons opposed the application on the basis that the consent order only allowed her to make a claim if the couple had remarried, which they had not.

The court ruled in favour of the wife. It held that since the couple had made the agreement, Parliament had introduced the ability for people to make claims as a cohabitant in certain circumstances. The agreement did not over-ride those new provisions.

The woman was therefore entitled to proceed with her claim.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.

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