Don’t bother working! Be a benefit scrounger and make your parents leave you their cash.

4 April 2011

willLife’s a bitch and then you die, right? Still, at least you can shuffle off this mortal coil leaving any measly pennies you have managed to whomever you choose- if one of your children is a waster, cut ‘em off, right? Er, wrong.

A recent inheritance case has been heard in the Court of Appeal, and concludes that if your adult children are on benefits, despite having no mental or physical incapacity preventing them from working, you have to leave them your money. Yes, you do.

The facts of the case in question are of an estranged mother and daughter who had not spoken for a number of years. 26 to be precise. Said daughter has five children and lives off benefits with her husband a “part time...supporting actor, receiving modest earnings from occasional non-speaking roles”. Their youngest child was 10 at the time.

The mother, who died in 2004 left an Estate approaching £500,000 to be shared between the Blue Cross , the RSPB and the RSPCA, despite having no “particular love of, or interest in, either animals or birds.” Er, right. Apart from the quite significant interest in leaving them her money.

It has been widely reported that the final straw in the breakdown of relationship between the two came when the daughter named her own daughter Ellen, a name the deceased hated. This may be the case, and it may be considered a fairly unreasonable thing to do, but strictly speaking, you can be as unreasonable as you like in your own Will. The issue was whether there was ‘reasonable provision’ made for family under the Inheritance Tax (Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

In actual fact, the case has been heard twice before - the first hearing at the County Court decided there was no reasonable provision and awarded the daughter £50,000. Despite the fact that this was a “46 year old daughter suffering from neither physical nor mental incapacity of any kind who had made her life entirely independently of her mother for the 26 years prior to the latter's death...[and could not] place any responsibility on the deceased or her estate to maintain her in life or on death”, she decided this was not good enough, and appealed to the High Court for more.

Unfortunately for this scrounger woman, the High Court Judge found the previous decision to be “plainly wrong” and ruled that she should get nothing. Now, however, the Court of Appeal has overturned that decision, and have decided that she should get something, but that the amount should be determined by the County Court (again), if they can’t agree among themselves.

While it is obviously annoying anytime someone gets a free ride, the most worrying aspect of this decision is the precedent it may be setting.  Previously, it was considered very difficult for an adult child, who was capable of supporting themselves to show that a Will was not reasonable- as this often-quoted 1984 case put it

“although he is in employment and capable of maintaining himself his circumstances leave him little or no margin for expenditure on anything other than the necessities of life. I have every sympathy for any plaintiff who, on relatively slender earnings, has to meet a steadily rising cost of living, but, as I have said, I cannot regard the Act as one which entitles the court to interfere with a deceased person's dispositions simply because a qualified plaintiff feels in need of financial assistance.”

However, now it appears that in order to get your hands on the dosh you merely need to be unskilled and on the dole with a bagload of kids.

The Judges at the Court of Appeal included the following in their judgment; it was “reasonable for her to wish to remain at home for the time being* rather than work” and that they “were not all to be blamed for their lack of income which makes a claim for tax credits necessary and possible.”

So there you have it. Life can be too hard for some, but it’s OK. Someone will end up paying for them...

* I would just like to point out (again) that her youngest child was 10. That’s all.

TOPICS:   Economy

9 comments

  • Richard
    You write: "However, now it appears that in order to get your hands on the dosh you merely need to be unskilled and on the dole with a bagload of kids." If you think that then you haven't read the judgement very carefully. And I don't think it sets a precedent - these cases turn on their own facts. And you could usefully have quoted more extensively: "The President has said that the appellant lives in modest circumstances. She and her husband have rented a three bedroom house from a housing association since 1984 and live there with the four youngest of their five children. She has not had paid employment since her eldest son was born around 25 years ago and the district judge considered that, with five children to look after, it would have been difficult for her to work outside the home in the past. As the youngest child was 10 by the time of the hearing before the district judge, he concluded that the appellant had "some possibility in the future of obtaining part-time work. But she does not hold a driving licence, lives in an isolated village, and is dependent on public transport and others to get to any likely work in any larger population centre". Her husband used to work as a delivery driver but now has a back problem and works only part time as a supporting actor, receiving modest earnings from occasional non-speaking roles. Eleanor King J recorded that the family income is "extremely modest", 75% of it made up of state benefits."
  • Dick
    > Her husband used to work as a delivery driver but now has a back problem and works only part time as a supporting actor, receiving modest earnings from occasional non-speaking roles. Was he in the Bill? Everyone has been in the Bill. If they remove money from the charities to give to her, then do her benefits go down? If so, the state can rape charities in this way to cut down the benefits bill.
  • andy y.
    Try to use a bit of journalistic objectivity in your piece Sam,The reader does not need leading in this way. Did you work for the Daily Mail?
  • Skymarshall
    If you haven't got the money to have kids, don't have 5 of the fuckers. Simple.
  • Loads b.
    There are too many something for nothing scroungers. Some hard working folk go without holidays, new cars, etc and live their lives within their means, without depending on benefits & with no greed. Others think these decent & hard working people owe then a living, for being "lucky". Well bull shit to such irresponsible scroungers. If it was the mother's dosh, then the mother should have had the final say where it went. As simple as that. Frankly the verdict is unbelievable. I had to check the date was not 1 April.
  • Carl
    I am 26 years old. If I can find a rich relative who disappeared before I was born, can I mooch off em?
  • Sam T.
    Blimey. Actually Richard I did read the judgment carefully, and the previous judgments, and this is what I think. If it differs from your opinion that does not make it wrong. And clearly given the above Andy I cannot have worked for the Daily Mail as a) I can read judgments and b) I do not believe everything I say, or anyone else says to be gospel. However, I will admit that my "affronted of West Midlands" side perhaps got the better of me- my main bugbear with this (as it was with the High Court Judge, for whom I actually have a lot of sympathy, despite the fact that her decsiion was rubbished by the Appeal court judges) is that this is basically stomping on the point of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act, which was meant to rescue people genuinely in need, rather than those who have CHOSEN to live in 'modest' circumstances AND means that you cannot leave your property to whom you choose when you die, which should be a fundamental (dead) human right. In my opinion...
  • Richard
    Sorry Sam but if you have read the judgement you will know that the phrase 'genuinely in need' does not appear in the Act. It is your invention. In fact the Act is not prescriptive, it just requires that 'reasonable financial provision be made'. Well-off people can also use the Act. The effect of the Act is to, in certain circumstances, allow modification of a will. Perhaps you should be directing your affronted side to Parliament, rather than the claimant.
  • Jonny S.
    Richard. The be all and end all of this is that she wished to leave her money to whatever she chose. Regardless of who or whatever she left it to that was bypassed because some lazy assed chav who decided to pop kids out decided the world owed her (or more precisely her dead mother who, up until the point of money being talk about, she didn't get 2 shits about). THAT is wrong. People will stop amassing fortunes to leave to friend/families/charities if they don't think the money will get there, and substancially less inheritance tax will be earned for the government and economy. This is a severe lack of human rights not to mention short sightedness from the government in that it will lead to decreased economic earnings if it becomes any kind of commonplace practice. Instead of bickering over the fine point of the judgement etc. try looking at the rights of people and the deceased who made those funds readily available upon their death in the first place. I can guaranteee the chavs won't have any inheritance to give to their 5 spawn!

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