New landmark set in the Time Provision for Inheritance Act claims

29 Jan 2020

In the judgment of  the case of Thakare v Bhusate [2020] EWHC 52 (Ch) handed down recently, the High Court upheld a widow’s right to bring a claim against her husband’s estate more than 26 years after the grant of probate was issued. It is a new landmark in the length of time Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claims can be brought after death.

Mrs Bhustate was granted permission by Chief Master Marsh to bring a claim out of time (nearly 25 years after the date of the grant of probate), partly on the basis of her acrimonious relationship with her stepchildren which had obstructed the house sale.

Mr and Mrs Bhustate married in India in 1979. Mr Bhustate (61) was twice previously married with five children and Mrs Bhustate (28)  spoke little English. The couple lived in London and had one child before the husband died intestate in 1990. Their matrimonial home failed to sell with Mrs Bhustate continuing to live there with her son.

The stepchildren appealed against the court’s decision to permit the ‘out of time’ claim to be brought, arguing reasonable financial provision had already been made for their stepmother at the time their father died. They claimed it was her own ‘fault’ that she lost the entitlement to bring a claim.

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Edwin Johnston QC concluded it was not appropriate to interfere with the Chief Master’s decision. He also stated that the ‘administration of the estate was left in limbo’ as a result of a lack of co-operation from the stepchildren.

It is encouraging that the High Court has upheld the widow’s rights in this case and thereby ensured that justice was not thwarted by conduct.

Blog post written by Jan Atkinson, Partner of the Wills, probate and Disputed Estates team.

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