Prior to his death, the husband made a will bequeathing the whole of his estate to his widow. Their matrimonial home was, however, owned equally by the husband and one of his brothers as joint tenants. When the husband died, his interest in the property fell outside his estate and passed to his brother automatically under the principle of survivorship. As a result, the brother became the property’s sole owner and no part of it passed to the widow.
The widow and her child remained living in the property, but their position was precarious. Although she had inherited a modest investment property from her husband, it was subject to a substantial mortgage and she needed the rental income it generated to cover its costs. She testified that she had few other resources and was otherwise dependent on benefits.
After she launched proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the Court found that the husband had failed to make reasonable provision for her as his financial dependant. The most obvious and primary claim on his estate was to provide for his wife and child and, in particular, to ensure that they had a home to live in.