The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision allowing an unmarried partner to buy the home he had shared with the deceased for 19 years.
Thomas Warner and Audrey Blackwell had lived in Mrs Blackwell’s house, Green Avon, for 19 years, as if husband and wife, when Mrs Blackwell died on 6th May 2014. Mr Warner, who was eight and a half years older than Mrs Blackwell, was also significantly better off than her, and freely admitted that he never expected to receive anything under her Will. He had always assumed that he would die first and had made a Will leaving her a substantial sum.
As expected, on Mrs Blackwell’s death, her Will left nothing to Mr Warner, who by then was in his late 80s and infirm. He made a successful claim for ‘reasonable financial provision’ under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to give him the right to buy Green Avon, at full value, so that he could continue living there. The decision was appealed (twice) by Mrs Blackwell’s daughter, Mrs Lewis, who was her sole executrix and heir, on the basis that Mr Warner was not in need of financial provision, being able to afford alternative accommodation.
The Court of Appeal dismissed Mrs Lewis’s appeal, confirming that Mrs Blackwell’s Will did not make reasonable financial provision for Mr Warner’s maintenance, and that, taking into account various factors including his age, disability, the length of time he had lived at Green Avon and the help provided by his neighbours, Mr Warner needed that maintenance to continue, rather than requiring him to move house.
(Lewis v Warner, 2017 EWCA Civ 2182).
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