Man's second wife fails to stop his son inheriting family home

A man’s second wife has failed to prevent his son inheriting the family home after he died.

The husband had married his first wife in 1988 and their son was born shortly afterwards.

He worked overseas during the early 2000s, where he formed a relationship with a second woman who lived in the Philippines.

He separated from his wife and the son moved with his mother to a house that she had acquired with inheritance money.

The husband remained living in the former family home when in the UK. He and his new partner had a child in 2008.

In 2012 they moved to the UK to live in the family home. To satisfy the UK border agency that he was obtaining a divorce from his first wife, the husband obtained a decree nisi in 2013.

Negotiations with his first wife concerning the financial remedy proceedings concluded in an agreement in 2016 which was embodied in a consent order that the Family Court subsequently approved.

In accordance with the terms of that order, the husband executed a deed of covenant (the deed) in February 2017 and gifted the property to his first son by his will of March 2017.

His new partner signed a statement on the consent order to the effect that she understood its terms and had no beneficial interest in the property.

In 2019, the husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He married his partner. The marriage revoked the will and he died intestate.

The family home formed a significant part of his estate.

The son sought specific performance of the agreement within the deed to leave the property to him.

The second wife asserted that the deed was unenforceable because it failed to comply with the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 s.2.

The court found in favour of the son. It held that the deed did comply with the Act and was enforceable.

The evidence showed that when negotiating the consent order and executing the deed, the husband 

had multiple intentions, including ensuring that he was financially secure, his first wife received a fair deal, and his son received the property by way of an inheritance.

He wanted to ensure his son obtained the property and took steps to safeguard it against third party claims, including from his second wife.

That was a common theme throughout his negotiations with his first wife.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.

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