A law which has been in force for nearly 100 years has resulted in two stepsisters, each from different marriages, taking part in a legal battle over a £280,000 inheritance, both trying to prove that the other’s parent died first.
The family of the parent who survived longer is set to inherit the estate of the deceased, leaving the other side with nothing.
The couple in question, Mr and Mrs Scarle, were both found to have died from hypothermia after police were called by neighbours to their home. Officials remain uncertain how the tragedy happened.
The general legal principle when two or more people die, and it is unclear if one of them has survived the other, is that they are presumed to have died in the order of age seniority. Applying this rule, it would be presumed that the Mr Scarle aged 79 passed away before Mrs Scarle aged 69. This would have allowed Mrs Scarle to inherit her husband’s share of the house and then pass it down to her daughter when she died.
However, it is being argued that Mrs Scarle had previously suffered a stroke and had limited mobility, and so he is likely to have died first. This would have meant that Mr Scarle briefly inherited his wife’s share of the estate and then passed it down to his daughter when he died.
The Courts are yet to determine the legal dispute with a ruling on a later date.
If you have any queries regarding inheritance law, then contact us at Audley Chaucer.
Written by Syeda Anjum