The claim on Wham! star and singer George Michael’s estate by Kenny Goss has been widely reported in the UK media. It demonstrates how the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 enables select family members and dependants to claim on an estate, even if the deceased made a decision not to include them in their Will.
Making a claim against an estate
The Act allows certain qualifying individuals to make a claim against an estate where the deceased is considered to have not made reasonable financial provision for them in their Will. The individuals entitled to claim under the Act include:
- the spouse or civil partner of the deceased (or, a former spouse or civil partner provided they have not remarried or entered into a subsequent civil partnership);
- a child of the deceased (or a person who was treated as a child by the deceased); and
- a person who, for the two years prior to the deceased’s death, lived with the deceased as a spouse or civil partner.
In addition to these individuals, any other person who was maintained by the deceased prior to their death is also entitled to claim against their estate.
Grant of Representation
A claim can be made up to six months after a Grant of Representation is issued for an estate. The Grant of Representation is a court sealed document issued by the High Court and provides the Personal Representative/s of an estate with the legal right to administer the estate. In some exceptional circumstances, the time limit in respect of claims made after the Grant of Representation is received may be extended, giving more time for claims to be brought against an estate.
No provision was made for George Michael’s ex-partner, Kenny Goss, in his Will. Consequently, Kenny lodged a claim under the Act to receive monthly payments from George’s estate. The claim was made on the grounds that George had supported his ex-partner financially during his lifetime. Kenny argued that he had been maintained by George up until his death, despite them not having been in a relationship for several years.
The outcome in respect of George Michael’s estate
After a long legal battle, it appears that an undisclosed settlement from George’s estate was agreed with Kenny.
This scenario highlights the importance of obtaining professional advice when making a Will and having it professionally drafted.
Professional Will Drafters will take the time to understand your unique personal circumstances and make you aware of any potential implications regarding the terms of your Will and would fully document your wishes and the reasons why particular family members or dependants have been omitted. They may also recommend that you create a separate document confirming your decisions, which can be evidenced in Court to help your estate defend any claim. This would reduce the likelihood of an individual who you did not wish to make provision for successfully making a claim on your estate.
If you would like peace of mind that your Will accurately reflects your wishes and circumstances, please contact us.