Settling claims for minor children

 In Probate

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Ubbi v Ubbi [2018] EWHC 1396

Proposed IPFD revisionsThis update summarises another Inheritance (Provisions for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (IPFD 1975) case – Ubbi v Ubbi [2018] EWHC 1396. This was a case involving a man whose life was split between his legitimate family and his second family. He had made a Will before his illegitimate children were born and died unexpectedly so had not provided for them. It demonstrates the difficulty of making a lump sum award for maintenance of children aged only 3 and 6 months of age at the time of death.

The case hinged on the financial needs of the minor illegitimate children compared with the deceased’s Will in favour of his legitimate son who was severely disabled. The finances of his wife were secure through her own assets and those inherited from the deceased making her worth in excess of £3 million.

The mother of the claimant children was a pharmacist and also acknowledged that she had to contribute to the welfare of her children but to maximise her salary potential she needed a live-in nanny the cost of which had to be factored into the children’s claim.

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Before the hearing the mother of the claimants agreed that 65% of her income (£901,639 – 65% of her income pa over 18 years with 2% compound interest) would go to contribute to the welfare of her children. The claim included over £460,000 for the payment of private school fees which was not agreed. In the end the court awarded £386,290.60 instead of the £1,749,744.78 claimed.

What can the practitioner take away from this case?

It is not often the courts have to settle a claim for minor children. It is difficult to assess what their financial needs are going to be over many years into the future so be careful in asking for a clean break lump sum award as it closes down the opportunity to go back to court for a variation of a periodical payment award should circumstances change.

Testamentary freedom remains important but the Will was made here before the illegitimate children were born and could not take them into account so it was not a particularly defining document.

Practical tip

Always take care when documenting concessions – here it is likely that the claimant and her advisers in conceding she would pay 65% of her income towards the children’s maintenance did not think about the effect on this if the maintenance cost reduced in argument (which it did)

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