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Court of Appeal rejects daughters’ challenge to claim share of father’s estate

The Court of Appeal has rejected two daughters’ legal challenge for a share of their father’s estate.

The ruling brings the long-running case to an end, following the death of banking boss Anthony Shearer in 2017.

According to court documents, Mr Shearer – the former head of merchant bank Singer and Friedlander and finance governor of Rugby School in Warwickshire – left almost all of his £7million fortune to his second wife, Pamela Shearer, in his Will.

But a legal challenge brought by his two adult daughters argued that they were owed financial provision from the estate.

It comes despite both daughters receiving gifts of approximately £180,000 each in 2008, with Mr Shearer making it clear that Juliet Miles, 40, and Lauretta Shearer, 38, were not to expect further financial assistance.

Lord Justice Snowden, presiding over the case, rejected that both daughters had a financial need for maintenance. It was heard that both children have capital, while the youngest daughter has an annual income of £70,000.

The Judge ruled that Mr Shearer had “no obligation” to support either daughter, reiterating that the father had made it clear in 2008 that he would not offer further financial support.

He added that the daughters’ lifestyle choices were “not dependent” on any expectation of financial benefit.

Lorraine Walker, a Solicitor with Mander Hadley who specialises in disputed Wills, said: “In England and Wales there are no forced heirship laws but courts have limited powers to intervene under the Inheritance Act, where there is judged to be a failure to make reasonable financial provision for a defined class of people connected to the deceased.

“This includes the current or former spouse or civil partner of the deceased; a person who, for the two years prior to the death, was living with the deceased as if they were a spouse or civil partner; children; a person who was treated as a child; and any other person who was being maintained by the deceased.”

Lorraine added: “If you believe you have grounds to contest a Will, it is important to seek prompt legal advice.

“A claim under the Inheritance Act must be made within 6 months from the date of issue of the grant of probate.

“Whilst there is no time limit to make a claim if disputing the validity of a Will, it is still important to seek legal advice as quickly as possible and preferably before estate assets have been distributed.  Claims may be rejected by the court if it considers there has been undue delay in bringing a claim.”

For further information and advice about either making or contesting a Will, please get in touch with us.

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