High Court refuses to grant award to adult children left out of father's Will in recent will dispute case

The case of Miles & Anor v Shearer [2021] EWHC 1000 (Ch) concerned a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 brought by the two adult daughters of top banker and former head of merchant bank Singer & Friedlander, Tony Shearer. Tony Shearer died in 2017.

The intention of the Act is to empower the court to make orders out of an estate of a deceased person for the financial provision of various categories of claimant, including children. The key to the Act is the discretion of the court in making such awards – a discretion which the court declined to exercise in this case.

The Claimants were aged 39 and 40. Their father, a former CEO, had provided his daughters with a private education and had given them gifts of £185,000 and £177,000 respectively in 2008. He died with an estate worth approximately £2.2 million, the majority of which passed to Tony’s second wife, Pamela, the Defendant in this case. His daughters were not provided for under the Will.

Mr Shearer had written to his daughters on numerous occasions following the 2008 gifts, explaining that they shouldn’t expect any further financial assistance from him, whether during the remainder of his life, or in his Will.

Regardless, both daughters brought a claim under the 1975 Act.

In his judgment, Sir Julian Flaux considered the particular circumstances of both daughters, including the fact that one of the daughters had a child diagnosed with autism.

Despite the condition of the child, the Judge held that grandchildren of the deceased are not able to bring a claim under section 1(1) of the Act. Separately, the Judge also preferred the evidence of the Defendant, Pamela, compared to the two daughters who had notably referred to their father as “the chequebook” in the past.

The Judge further considered the earning potential and finances of both claimants, neither of which were particularly deficient.

Therefore, the Judge concluded that neither daughter had demonstrated a need for maintenance from the deceased’s estate and that the deceased did not have any obligations towards them at the time of his death.

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