It has been said that getting a divorce is up there as one of the most stressful things most of us will ever go through. While the emotional and financial side of divorce can feel all-encompassing, it is important not to forget how this legal process can have a real impact on other elements of your life, including your Will.
Ubbi v Ubbi – what is it all about?
The recent case of Ubbi v Ubbi highlights the importance of ensuring that we keep our Wills up to date.
Malkiat Ubbi and his wife, Susan, who already had a son together, were married in 2000. In 2007, Malkiat met another woman, Bianca, with whom he subsequently had an affair and later, two children. In 2014, Susan started divorce proceedings (Malkiat had left the home he shared with Susan and moved in with Bianca in 2013). The Decree Nisi followed in January 2015 but, crucially, the divorce was not completed so Susan could still benefit.
Under Section 18A of the Wills Act 1837, if the maker of a Will divorces a beneficiary, it is treated as if the beneficiary has died before the maker of the Will unless they specifically say otherwise. As a result of this some or all of the Will may fall into intestacy or the gift under the will may pass to a secondary beneficiary (an example would be if you leave your house to your wife or to your son if your wife dies first – if you divorce your wife then it is treated as if she is dead and your son steps in as the beneficiary).
A short while later, Malkiat died unexpectedly, leaving behind a Will that he had made in August 2010. In this Will, he stated that everything should be left to Susan. Bianca (and the two children they had together) were not mentioned.
In 2016, under section 2 of The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, Bianca made a claim against the Will on the behalf of their two children (on the basis they had not been provided for under the will). The Act enables children to bring a claim against an estate if reasonable financial provision has not been made for them in the Will.
What did the court say?
The court needed to consider whether Malkiat’s estate made reasonable financial provision for the two children and if it did not, whether there should be an order made in the children’s favour.
Bianca was awarded £386,000 out of the £3.5 million estate of Malkiat Ubbi. She had originally sought just under £850,000.
What does this case mean for me?
The Judge in the case said that there was ‘little specific guidance’ for claims of this kind (made by children). Therefore, this case was likely to be used as guidance in the future for similar claims under the Inheritance Act. It may well be the case that Malkiat Ubbi would have wanted to leave the two children that he had with Bianca more in his Will. We will never know.
What this case highlights is the importance of updating your Will following any significant changes, such as divorce, in your life.
If Malkiat had updated his Will, it may be that the stress and the cost of going to court could have been avoided.
Here at Grayfords, our experienced solicitors will be by your side to advise you at every part of the divorce process, so you don’t neglect something which could cost you or your loved ones time and money further down the line. We can also assist you with your Will whether you are divorcing or not.