Posted: Thursday, 13 October 2016 @ 14:21
As was recently highlighted in the Telegraph, George
Martin's will has led to a family rift with his two children Giles and Lucie from
his second marriage, who now locked in a row with his children from his first
marriage over his £1 million estate.
According to the Telegraph when he died last March at the
age of 90, his two children from his first marriage to Jean “Sheena” Chisholm
might have assumed that they were in for a windfall. How wrong it now seems
It has recently emerged that Martin decided to leave only
£325,000 – the maximum amount before inheritance tax is paid - to be shared
between his daughter Alexis, his former chauffeur, his secretary, three
grandchildren and a niece.
His estranged older son, Greg, with whom he
had a troubled relationship, has not been left a single penny.
The 'Fifth Beetle' George Martin died aged 90.
The rest of his estate – an undisclosed amount will go to Judy Lockhart-Smith, with whom he
went with after 14 years of married life.
Martin also ensured in his will that
if the 87-year-old Lockhart-Smith died before him, her entire share would
have gone to her children instead of his own.
The warring factions between both sides of the family has
now spiralled into a bitter and apparently irreconcilable rift, which could yet
reportedly end up picked over in court.
All this is very painful for the parties involved and
potentially expensive if lawyers are acting.
Inheritance disputes are an expensive business.
It is worth considering the following.
Just because you are the natural child of someone who is
apparently wealthy does not entitle you to inherit anything from the estate.
The law underpins testatmentary freedom. E.g the right of Jo Bloggs/Wealthy
Person/George Martin to do whatever he or she likes with his or her financial affairs when he or she passes away.
Fundamentally if a close relative has not left anything to you,
there are two ways to go.
The more speculative way is to attack the validity of the
will by say proving undue influence(say “coercion ” of the testatator) or some
other flaw in the way the will is executed.
This can happen particularly if the
will was done without legal input. I worked with the consumer brand, Which? and
found myself advising members who had come across a number wills which were not
If you do not prove some kind of flaw in the will preparation
process or you want additional legal ammunition you can go another route and
that centres on an inheritance claim under the trusted Inheritance (Provision
for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
In the case of George Martin a child of the deceased can
make a claim under section 1(1) paragraph c which makes the child an eligible
Claimant. All well and good.
The next consideration is has the testator(Mr Martin) made
reasonable provision for the Claimant(the children) and the test is an
The decision is based on facts known at the time of the
application and not known at date of death.
The guidelines for all applicants is as follows – Financial –
balancing the resources and needs of
all persons with a claim on the estate,
moral obligations of all claimants, the size and nature of the estate, mental
or physical disability and any other matter the Court considers relevant.
There are other specific dynamics at play but the key case
law here is focused on the obligation of Mr Martin to provide for his children.
the courts have shown a reluctance to make
awards for able bodied Claimants such as in Re Coventry.
This has been
undermined by the case of Ilott v Miston which gives hope to adult Claimants
though that case is under appeal. In
this case the award to the Claimant was given by assessing provisions in section
3 of the IPFDA 1975 and concluding that no provision was unreasonable given the
destitute situation of the daughter.