Hugh James advise in estate with assets in foreign jurisdictions where domicile was disputed and where there are minor beneficiaries
Roman Kubiak acts for the husband of the deceased in relation to claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and to set aside the deceased’s last will on the grounds of lack of capacity and lack of knowledge and approval.
This matter is particularly complex as the deceased and her husband were resident in Switzerland at the time of death and the deceased’s assets are split between France, Switzerland, Austria, Jersey and England. As such, it has been necessary to establish the legal position abroad, to ensure that the claims brought in the UK marry up with any potential succession rules in each of the above jurisdictions, to consider the impact of forced heirship and matrimonial property regimes and tax considerations.
Further, the grant of probate was extracted on the basis that the deceased died domiciled in Switzerland, potentially excluding the husband from bringing a claim under the Inheritance Act. This has been challenged and proceedings have been issued in the Royal Courts of Justice.
Financial security using the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
Matthew Evans, partner in the Hugh James specialist Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates Team, successfully obtained a favourable decision for his client in Cardiff County Court which was upheld in the Court of Appeal un the reported case of Iqbal v Ahmed  EWCA Civ 900.
Our client, Mrs Mussarat Iqbal, was widowed after 22 years of marriage. Following her husband’s death she discovered that, under the terms of her husband’s will, she was left just £8000 and a right to live in the matrimonial home. That home was valued at £115,000 and required extensive repairs worth over £30,000 which she simply could not meet. There was, therefore, the very real possibility that she may not be able to carry on living in her home.
The remainder of her husband’s estate was left to his son from an earlier marriage.
The court heard that Mrs Iqbal, 61, was totally dependent on her husband prior to his death. She speaks limited English and effectively lived on state support and the £5 a week paid to her by her husband as pocket money.
An application was made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and the court agreed with the case brought by our team on Mrs Iqbal’s behalf that she had not received ‘reasonable financial provision’. As such, the court effectively rewrote Mrs Iqbal’s husband’s will to ensure to the effect that she now owns half of the property and has the right to stay in her home for life. She is also entitled to her husband’s residuary estate, which is valued at around £28,000.
The outcome ensures that Mrs Iqbal has far more financial security in her later years and demonstrates the court’s willingness to intervene if it feels that reasonable provision has not been made for an individual.