The recent case of Ames v (1) Jones, (2) Pallikarou, (3) Ames  highlights the Courts approach towards the factors under section 3 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (“1975 Act”) when considering claims brought by adult children.
In this case, Michael Ames (“the Deceased”) died in 2013 leaving his entire Estate, worth around £700,000, to his wife of 30 years. If she was to pre-decease him, then the Estate was to be split 40% to his only daughter, Danielle Ames (“Ms Ames”), and 60% to his two grandchildren (Ms Ames’ children).
The Deceased’s wife survived him and Ms Ames received nothing from the Estate. She therefore proceeded to bring a claim under the 1975 Act for financial provision.
It was not in dispute that Ms Ames had legal standing to bring a claim as she was a child of the Deceased. However, the Court made it clear that this in itself does not mean that Ms Ames would be successful in any claim. All the factors in the 1975 Act must be properly considered.
The Court, in particular, looked at the current and future needs of Ms Ames. She had admitted in Court that she could work, but that she chose not to. This was on the basis that she only knew about the All Frames and Mirrors business her partner owned which would not substantiate two salaries. Ms Ames stated that she did not have the experience to get a job anywhere else. Unsurprisingly, this was not accepted by the Court.
A further concern raised by the Court was about the true extent of Ms Ames’ household income and expenditure, as her deficit appeared to be around £2,000 per month. Nevertheless, she only had debts of around £15,000, whereas, in the circumstances, her debts should be around £80,000.
On the other side, the Deceased’s wife had retired and suffered from ill health. This was supported by a GP letter. She was therefore clearly in need of financial provision from the Deceased’s Estate.
After considering all the factors, the Court concluded that Ms Ames had failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to her current and future financial needs and resources. The information she had provided was unreliable and inconsistent throughout the Hearing. Furthermore, the Court found her lack of employment was a “lifestyle choice”. Ms Ames was unsuccessful in her 1975 Act claim and she was also ordered to pay both parties costs in the matter.
This case highlights the significance of having consistent, precise and reliable evidence when bringing a claim before the Court. It also reiterates that a child does not have an automatic right to inherit their parents Estates.