A woman who received nothing in the will left by her partner of four decades has won a High Court case.
Joan Thompson, 79, lived with the late Wynford Hodge for less than 42 years, but his will allocated his entire £1.5 million fortune to the tenants of one his properties. In the document, he claimed that he did not trust Mrs Thompson’s children and did not think she would be able to live independently after his death due to her poor health. He insisted:
“I am Joan’s main carer and envisage she may have to go in to a [nursing] home following my death. I confirm Joan has her own finances and is financially comfortable. Joan has her own money and her own savings.”
However, Joan had been financially dependent on him during their decades together, and in fact only had meagre savings. She was therefore left in straitened circumstances, reliant on a state pension and disability benefits. After moving into a nursing home, she launched a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
In the Chancery Division of the High Court, His Honour Judge Jarman QC explained:
“As Mr Hodge and Mrs Thompson grew older each had health issues which needed care and each relied on the other to provide care. Mrs Thompson had a serious stroke about 12 years ago and has had heart attacks since. She accepts that in the last few years that she needed more care than he did. However, she helped him whenever she could, for example by helping him dress, wash and shave after a hip replacement some years ago.”
The Judge described the various ailments the couple had suffered from in the final years of Mr Hodge’s life, before explaining:
“In December  he was admitted to hospital. During Mrs Thompson’s visits he told her not to worry as she would be well looked after. It was not long after discharge that he was admitted again for a burst cyst which led to his death.”
At the time of his passing, Mr Hodge was in his 90s.
Counsel for the tenants who had been made beneficiaries of the will eventually conceded that the will had in fact not made reasonable provision for Mrs Thompson. Judge Jarman said she should be given one of her late partner’s properties – a cottage that had originally been bought with a view to retirement – along with £28,845 for renovation. She also received £160,000 for maintenance and care costs.
Read the ruling in full here.
Photo by Jessie Jacobson via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence