Financial & Legal News

Wife awarded £8.7m in needs case involving inherited wealth

  • Posted on

In the case of Y v Y Mrs Justice Baron has awarded a wife a lumps sum of £8,738,000 in a case which, in the light of the wife's needs, required her to 'invade' the husband's inherited assets. The award represented 32.5% of the net assets. The costs incurred by the parties totalled £1.1m.

The husband's landed estate, extending to 1,495 acres, included:

  • the family home and grounds
  • further 14 residential properties in the same village, two in a neighbouring village and one in the nearby town;
  • a farm, comprising a farmhouse, 4 cottages, farm buildings  and 350 acres of farmland surrounding/adjoining the main Estate house;
  • 686 acres of farmland on the nearby Downs;
  • a further 102 acres of farmland by a neighbouring village;
  • a Commercial Centre in the village with 4 commercial properties and 4 commercial units;
  • an Equestrian Centre in the village;
  • a pub in the village; and
  • a farm and 210 acres about 2 miles north of the main Estate.

The marriage lasted 26 years. Acknowledging that the origin of the wealth was on the husband's side, Baron J said:
"Prima facie, this makes it non matrimonial property and places it in a special category. As such the Court should be slow to invade it without good reason. Nevertheless "In the ordinary course, this factor [inherited property] can be expected to carry little weight, if any, in a case where the claimant's financial needs cannot be met without recourse to this property": White v White [2000] UKHL 54.

"Accordingly, I accept that primarily this is a needs case given that the Estate was pre-acquired. There is no assertion that the Wife deserves any element of compensation."

After restating at length the case law authority relevant to the case and analysing the needs of the respective parties, Baron J concluded:
"I have reached the clear conclusion that the fair result in this case is a lump sum of £8,738,000. This amount of capital represents a 32.5% share in the net assets. It leaves the Husband with 67.5% of the assets (some £18 million) which is appropriate given the origin of the wealth. The award fairly meets the Wife's needs and it encompasses any right that she has to share the assets. I so state because, although my calculation is needs based, it does involve sharing inherited assets which will be invaded to cover the award. In this case needs and the right to sharing are essentially the same."

Source: Family Law Week

Family Law Enquiries

Please contact our family team using the details provided below.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

    How can we help?

    Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.