Will dispute experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth are warning of the importance of updating a will after a deceased man’s young children had to go to court to apply for maintenance.
Bianca Maria Corrado, who had a long-term affair with the late Malkiat Singh Ubbi, was awarded £386,000 against Mr Ubbi’s £3.5m estate in court this month. Mr Ubbi was still married to his widow and had one disabled child as well as a stepdaughter.
The deceased was described as living a ‘double life’ in the case, running two households to a high standard of living. At the time of Mr Ubbi’s death he was in the process of getting divorced from his wife and was living with Ms Corrado, but died unexpectedly in February 2015 before the divorce was finalised.
Ms Corrado originally sought a lump sum of £850,000 from Mr Singh’s estate. Ms Corrado’s illegitimate children with Mr Singh – aged just three years and six months – had not been provided for in his will, which was dated August 2010, a claim was brought under the Inheritance Act by Ms Corrado on behalf of her children.
Will dispute specialists at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth are warning that thousands of families could face the same fate. Divorce and remarriage have become increasingly common in society, yet wills are rarely updated after big life events.
“It can be incredibly costly in the long run to let your will languish with outdated information,” said Nazia Nawaz, a senior associate in the will, trust and estate disputes team at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth. “In this case, the deceased led a double life and stayed married to his former wife while living with his mistress at the time of his death. It’s vital to consider the consequences of staying married to someone when the relationship has broken down irretrievably, particularly if you then have a second family.
“It’s unusual to have infant children as claimants in an Inheritance Act dispute, but it was necessary here to provide for their future – particularly as the relationship between the two separate families was unfriendly at best.”
The judge recognised there is little specified guidance for claims made by infant children, and so this case is likely to be used as future guidance for Inheritance Act claims involving children.
Nazia continued: “The judge noted that while the provisions used in family proceedings can be used for guidance, the question of ‘reasonable financial provision’ in such claims must ultimately be determined in accordance with the Inheritance Act. Mr Ubbi may have wanted his children to receive more from the estate had he set out a provision for them in his will.
“This case also goes to show that while updating a will may seem costly and time-consuming from the outset, the fallout of leaving heirs and second families unaccounted for is much worse. Will disputes can have a devastating effect on families and can massively exacerbate existing tensions.
“It is not commonly known that getting remarried can invalidate a previous will, leaving potential heirs with no option other than to pursue a claim.
“We strongly advise that a person’s will is updated after every major life event, be that divorce, remarriage or death. That way the inevitable stress, cost and fallout from a will dispute can be avoided.”
(Source: Irwin Mitchell)