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LIVE 24-SEVEN


JORDANS SOL ICITORS SPECIALISTS IN FAMILY LAW


Barbara Jordan, of Jordans Solicitors, answers a question posed regarding monies on the death of an ex-husband.


QUESTION:


My former husband and I married 19 years ago and last year, through Solicitors, we agreed that he would receive a large sum of money from me as, although my husband was not poor himself, his wealth was significantly less than my own.


In the run up to final settlement, there was a great deal of discussion about the standard of living that we had both enjoyed during the marriage and, to some extent, this was the reason behind my having to pay my husband so large a sum of money, which generously covered his foreseeable housing and income needs.


To everyone’s great distress, four weeks after the final order, my husband committed suicide, but beforehand he left a Will that was made after the financial settlement order leaving all of his money, including the money that I gave him, to his children.


This seems to me completely unfair as I have been deprived of some of my wealth when my husband, however unfortunately, does not need it and has chosen to use his money to benefit his own children from an earlier marriage.


Can I do anything about this?


/ 74 ANSWER:


Every Court decision depends upon the particular circumstances of every case, but you certainly imply in your letter that you do not need the return of any money that you have been ordered to pay to your late husband.


You cannot, therefore, argue that it should be returned because you need the money, and that leaves you only with the possibility that you can ask the Court to revisit the entire order on the basis that your late husband’s death amounts to a supervening event that vitiates the original order.


However, the precedent that applies to this way forward specifically states that such an application should not prejudice third parties who have acquired, in good faith and for valuable consideration, interest in property which is the subject matter of the relevant order. You would also have to show that the suicide was not foreseeable.


I think your main difficulty here would be that you cannot show to the Court that you really need the money that has already been given to your husband or his Estate and the case of WA and JA (2015 EWHC2233 (Fam)) suggests that in a similar case the Court of Appeal has said that in circumstances such as yours it is not unreasonable for a deceased spouse’s Estate to retain money and transfer it on to beneficiaries and has even gone on to say that it would not be unreasonable for the original award made to your late husband to include not only enough for his own foreseeable needs, but enough also to enable him to make bequests to his children or other preferred legatees.


In the circumstances, I think it unlikely that you will succeed in claiming back money from your late husband’s Estate.


Jordans Solicitors, the Studio, Lydbrook, Gloucester GL17 9SB and 4 Royal Crescent, Cheltenham, Gloucester GL50 3DA


Tel: 01242 386700 www.jordans.legal


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