The recent case of Randall v Randall  has raised issues surrounding divorce settlements and expected inheritances.
In this case, Mr and Mrs Randall divorced each other in 2006. As part of the financial Settlement Agreement reached, Mrs Randall’s expected inheritance from her Mother was to be included.
It was agreed that Mrs Randall would receive the first £100,000 from any inheritance from her Mother’s Estate. If she received anything above £100,000, it was to be split equally between her and Mr Randall. This agreement was not binding on Mrs Randall’s Mother and so she was still free to leave her Estate to whoever she wished.
Mrs Randall’s Mother then made a Will leaving exactly £100,000 to Mrs Randall and the remainder of her Estate of £150,000 to her grandchildren. Therefore Mr Randall was not entitled to receive anything under the terms of the Financial Settlement.
Mr Randall believed that the Will had not been executed correctly under section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 and issued Court Proceedings disputing the validity of the Will.
In the first instance, the Court had to consider whether Mr Randall had the necessary legal standing to bring such a claim. The usual position is that to have the necessary standing, a person must show that they have a sufficient interest in the matter. Normally, with a challenge against the validity of a Will, this means benefitting either under an earlier Will or the Rules of Intestacy if there is no earlier Will (i.e. from which they would benefit if successful).
However, Mr Randall had not been included under any previous Wills of Mrs Randall’s Mother, nor was he due to inherit under the Intestacy Rules.
The Court considered the matter and initially found that Mr Randall did not have the required legal standing to bring a claim. However, this was overturned by the Court of Appeal. The Judge held that Mr Randall does have the legal standing to bring a claim based on the fact that the financial Settlement Agreement reached provides him with the legal standing to bring a probate claim (i.e. he had an entitlement to a potential share of the Estate of Mrs Randall’s Mother).
Mr Randall is, therefore, now free to pursue Court Proceedings disputing the validity of his late ex-Mother-in-law’s Will on the basis that it had not been properly executed. Of course, this doesn’t mean he will be successful with that claim, just that he can pursue it.
This is a significant case in terms of ex-spouses and ex-Civil Partners potentially having legal standing (i.e. a sufficient interest in a Will of an ex-spouse/ Civil Partner’s family), if similar provisions are contained in any divorce financial arrangements.