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In the recent case of Miles v Shearer [2021] the court has dismissed a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. This case highlights that potential claimants (and their lawyers) should be careful to consider the merits of their court action, and defendants should not be afraid to stand their ground when unmeritorious claims are advanced.

Tony Shearer, a wealthy former banker, left nothing in his Will to his two daughters from his first marriage and instead favoured his second wife, Pamela. His daughters Juliet and Lauretta claimed maintenance award (that totalled over £1m between them) from their father’s estate reported to be worth over £2m. The daughters stated that when non-estate property heirlooms and expensive wines were taken into account Pamela was left almost £7m.

Juliet, 40 and Lauretta, 39 had each received significant financial assistance from their father during his lifetime and Lauretta works as a marketing manager for Sotheby’s on a £57,000 per annum salary.

Mr Shearer was said to have cut them out because he was upset by their demands for money.  The daughter’s evidence was said by the judge to have been ‘imbued with and influenced by a sense of entitlement to inherit from Tony’s estate’.

The judge concluded “Tony had made generous provision for both claimants with the gift of money in 2008 which they were able to invest in property. He made it clear at that time that they could not expect any further financial assistance from him.”

He added that in their evidence the daughters had “pursued an extensive and unattractive attack on Pamela’ and ultimately concluded ‘In all the circumstances, I do not consider that either claimant can demonstrate needs for maintenance which they cannot meet, if necessary by adjustment to their lifestyle”

If you are making an inheritance claim or defending one, please contact  Michael Henry, senior contentious, trusts and probate lawyer.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.