In Focus: Tax Year End  

Disinheriting a spouse is fraught with pitfalls

James Cook and Jonathon Goldstone

Former spouses who have been divorced before the deceased's death may also be able to make a claim under this act, although not if they have remarried since the divorce.

The court has discretion to order that reasonable financial provision be made to someone out of the deceased's estate, even though their will leaves them nothing.  

Assessing "reasonable provision" will come down to the particular facts and needs of the parties involved, but the court has very wide discretion to consider all the circumstances. 

Jonathon Goldstone



It will be small comfort that any award made to the claiming spouse will be exempt from IHT – although not if they had divorced.  

Indeed, inheritance disputes can be extremely costly. It may therefore be wise to consider reaching some kind of agreement, before death ideally, to avoid unnecessary costs, which will erode the inheritance received by the chosen heirs.  

This agreement could even be tax efficient with careful will drafting. 

Disinheriting a spouse is fraught with potential pitfalls and it would be prudent to engage a professional to provide a tax-efficient solution and to help mitigate a potential claim against a person's estate.

James Cook is a partner and Jonathon Goldstone is an associate at law firm Collyer Bristow