In the case of Chekov v Fryer & Anor  the court allowed an Inheritance Act claim to be made by a former spouse against the estate of her ex-husband, even though the divorce Order specifically excluded an Inheritance Act claim being made.
When the couple divorced the court order specified that Miss Chekov and Mr Fryer would not be entitled to claim against each other’s estate under the Inheritance Act 1975.
It’s quite common for this type of provision to be made in a divorce order.
What was unusual is that the couple continued to live together following the divorce.
When Mr Fryer died his sons from a previous marriage inherited his estate.
Miss Chekov alleged that his Will did not make reasonable financial provision for her and brought a claim against Mr Fryer’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act) 1975.
She asserted that the divorce order only prevented a claim being made by her under the 1975 Act as a former spouse. It did not prevent her from claiming provision under the 1975 Act as a cohabitee (which is a separate category of claimant).
Mr Fryer’s sons defended the claim, arguing that as the couple had specifically excluded each other from making an Inheritance Act claim when they divorced, Miss Chekov’s claim should be dismissed.
The court disagreed and allowed Miss Chekov’s claim on the basis that following their divorce the couple had continued to cohabit.
Although the facts of this case are very specific, cohabitation following divorce does occur and this case demonstrates that courts are increasingly willing to apply the principles of the 1975 Inheritance Act to overrule the provisions of a person’s Will.
It presents a particular danger where couples continue to live together following divorce for purely practical or financial reasons.
If you are involved in an Inheritance Act dispute then contact our team of experts here in Somerset for a FREE initial assessment of your case.
Call us on Taunton 01823 354545 or pop in to see us at our offices on the Bindon Road Business Park.