I accidentally ended up with Sky Cinema for a year.  Those one-month free trials can catch out the best of us, they certainly caught me out!

As a result, I have just watched The Estate which is a new film Sky has produced and put straight on to their film channel.

Sky Cinema’s The Estate

The film involves two sisters vying for the attention and favour of a rich dying aunt in the hope that she will leave her estate to them while other family members try to do the same.

With a current Rotten Tomato film rating of 29%, this article is not meant to be a film recommendation!

I specialise in resolving inheritance disputes so I often see the fallout complex family relationships can have after someone has passed away.  While watching the film I couldn’t help but think of what legal arguments might be relevant.

Inheritance Disputes

The law in England and Wales does nothing to stop us from being nice to relatives whether they are rich or poor, dying or in good health.  I am sure some people are extra nice to wealthy elderly relatives but the law doesn’t have a problem with this.

What you can’t do is make a vulnerable person make a will without them being sure that is what they want to do and them fully understanding the content of the will.  Wills made in those circumstances can be challenged on the grounds of lack of mental capacity, lack of knowledge and approval and or duress/undue influence.

You also can’t tell lies about other family members to get them disinherited.  The law allows those wills to be challenged on the grounds of “fraudulent calumny”.

Lack of inheritance

If someone is disappointed with a lack of inheritance and feels they have not had reasonable provision made for them then the content of a valid will can still be challenged under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

However, only certain categories of people are eligible to make a challenge.  In the case of the film, the two main characters are the nieces of the dying aunt.  A niece is NOT a valid category of claimant so they would have no reasonable provision claim.  If it was their mother’s estate they might have a good case to challenge if left out of the will but only if they could show they had need of an inheritance for their “maintenance”.

I can’t help thinking of legal issues when watching films.  Sad but true.

Whether the film is any good I will leave it up to you!

For more information on disputing a will or probate disputes please call Edward Powell on 01206 239755

Image Credit: Sky
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