Unlike in many countries around the world, under English law a person is entitled to leave his or her property to whomever he or she chooses upon death.
A key exception to this has always been the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975. This allow for those, usually close family members, who have been dependent upon the recently deceased individual to bring a claim for a post-death variation to that deceased individual’s will.
Example: A 41 year-old daughter who was cut out of her late father’s will lost a court action. The judge criticised her claim, remarking: “I conclude that her lack of employment is a lifestyle choice. That alone is sufficient to defeat her claim.”
What is remarkable about this case is not so much that a 41 year-old woman sought, without success, to bring a claim under the 1975 Act. Such claims are increasingly commonplace, given the value of estates upon death that baby boomers are leaving behind after a surge in property prices in recent years.
It is the fact that the unsuccessful daughter, Danielle Ames, is now facing a huge costs bill after losing her claim.
Did her lawyers not suggest to her that she should take out an after-the-event insurance policy to protect her against the risk of being ordered to pay her opponent’s costs?
If they had done so then she would not be having to pay a penny.
Had she won, she would have had to pay a deferred insurance premium of £20,000 or so but that premium would have been paid out of her inheritance.
In other words, she could have litigated at no risk of an adverse costs order.
Whenever you look to sue someone, your solicitors should always recommend after-the-event insurance protection.
If they do not, and you are ordered to pay your opponents’ costs, you may have a claim in negligence against your solicitors – and that claim could well be funded by a third-party funder so you do not even have to pay for us to handle it for you.
To learn more about how to challenge someone’s will, or how to sue your former solicitors in negligence if this is the first time you have heard about after-the-event insurance or third-party litigation funding, please contact Donal Blaney, Principal of Griffin Law, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01732 525923.