Q&As

If a disappointed beneficiary brings a claim against solicitors who failed to conclude the Will of a deceased in a timely fashion (under which Will the disappointed beneficiary stood to benefit), will the court, in determining the quantum of that claim if successful, take into account the fact that, if the Will had been concluded, one or more other persons may have brought Inheritance Act claims against the estate, thus, reducing the disappointed beneficiary’s entitlement (and the quantum of their negligence claim)? Or will the disappointed beneficiary, if their negligence claim succeeds, receive the amount they stood to receive under the will regardless?

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Published on LexisPSL on 02/04/2020

The following Wills & Probate Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • If a disappointed beneficiary brings a claim against solicitors who failed to conclude the Will of a deceased in a timely fashion (under which Will the disappointed beneficiary stood to benefit), will the court, in determining the quantum of that claim if successful, take into account the fact that, if the Will had been concluded, one or more other persons may have brought Inheritance Act claims against the estate, thus, reducing the disappointed beneficiary’s entitlement (and the quantum of their negligence claim)? Or will the disappointed beneficiary, if their negligence claim succeeds, receive the amount they stood to receive under the will regardless?
  • Horsfall v Haywards [1999] All ER (D) 162
  • Bacon v Howard Kennedy [1998] Lexis Citation 4253
  • Negligence claims

In White v Jones, the House of Lords allowed disappointed beneficiaries under a Will to recover damages in compensation for the lost legacy under a Will which the solicitor was instructed by the testator to prepare, but did not prepare it. We note that, in these circumstances, you are asking whether, in determining quantum, the court will take into account that, if the Will had been executed, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (I(PFD)A 1975) may have been brought against the estate.

Horsfall v Haywards [1999] All ER (D) 162

You may be interested in the Court of Appeal decision in Horsfall v Haywards. In this case, concerning a claim by disappointed beneficiaries, it was argued by the negligent solicitors that damages should be reduced on the basis that if the Will had been drafted as instructed, the disappointed beneficiaries would have faced successful claims under I(PFD)A 1975. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument on the basis that the judge had been correct to find that he had too little evidence on which to reduce the damages awarded on the basis of claims under I(PFD)A 1975 and undue influence.

In Horsfall, Lord Justice Mummery said:

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