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Heiress awarded £3.6m repayment from late ex-husband

A “fabulously wealthy” heiress is to be repaid £3.6million from the estate of her ex-husband who committed suicide.

The couple met in 1995 and married two years later. They lived together on a £30million estate and had three children. Their marriage eventually broke down and they divorced in 2014. Following their divorce, the husband was awarded £17.3million, however he committed suicide less than a month after the decision was made.

Between the couple’s divorce and the husband’s death, he made a new will. In it, he left his entire estate to his adult brothers and nothing to his three young children. Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Justice Moor recognised that the father “may have felt that the children already had more than sufficient and did not want them coming in to large sums from him on their majority”. One condition of his bequest to his brothers was that they should not agree to pay his ex-wife any of the money he had left them.

After the details of the will were discovered, the heiress applied to the Family Court to appeal the award decision. Her lawyers argued that the initial figure was based on the husband’s future financial needs and that this was invalidated by his death so soon after the award was made.

The judge agreed, although he said that eliminating the award altogether would be “simply wrong and outside the band of reasonable decisions to which a court could come”. He ruled that £5million would be “an entirely appropriate award” instead of the full £17.3million. Additionally, he ordered the repayment of £3.6million which she had already given the husband.

Mr Justice Moor’s judgment, WA v Executors of the Estate of HA & Ors, is available to read in full here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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