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

The Court of Appeal has rejected two daughters’ legal challenge for a share of their millionaire 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 £7 million 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 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.

Experts say the ruling could have wider implications for similar cases involving the maintenance of adult children.

Commenting on the ruling, Mrs Shearer’s representatives said: “Mrs Shearer has throughout wanted to ensure her late husband’s wishes were followed. It is important to her that the court has repeatedly agreed that her husband’s clear wishes – not to financially support his adult children- were relevant.

“As both judges observed, the Claimants were not entitled to expect that the affluent lifestyle that they had enjoyed at their father’s expense until their parents’ divorce would continue after that.”

The report comes after research revealed that Will disputes could rise in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. With some solicitors choosing to offer remote estate planning and Will writing services, experts predict that the final wishes of loved ones could be challenged on the ground of testamentary capacity, undue-influence, and fraud.

For help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with our estate planning team today.

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