Many people will be surprised to know that wills are not always written in stone and that those with dependants are not permitted to ignore them when making their bequests. In an illustration of the point, a judge has directed that a disinherited son’s postgraduate education costs should be paid, at least in part, out of his deceased father’s £2 million estate.
The son was aged 17 when his wealthy father died, making ‘no provision’ for him in his will. The father had left £350,000 to charity and put the rest of his money into a trust fund from which the son was specifically excluded. Nevertheless, the son had sought ‘reasonable provision’ from his father’s estate under the terms of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
The executors of the father’s will resisted the application, pointing out that the estate had already contributed more than £110,000 towards the son’s maintenance and the costs of his musical studies. However, the Court ruled that it was right that his continuing education should be posthumously funded by his father.
Despite suffering from specific learning difficulties, and having been seriously injured in a road accident, the son had never wavered in his ambition to become an opera singer. He was granted £6,500 from his father’s estate to cover his student costs for the current academic year and a further £15,000 for the next two years. The latter payment was dependent on him being accepted onto a postgraduate course.