The High Court has today granted permission to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act – despite it being issued 25 years and nine months after the deadline for doing so. The case is the second in recent weeks where applications have been brought under the Inheritance Act years after the deadline expired.
The Act limits parties to six months for bringing claims under the Act, but Chief Master Marsh said the claimant in Bhusate v Patel had demonstrated ‘compelling reasons’ why it was right and proper that the court should exercise its discretion in her favour.
While the delay in making the claim was unprecedented, the judgement is also noteworthy for the Master appearing to dispute the reasoning of another High Court judge who recently considered a different out-of-time application under section 4 of the Inheritance Act in February 2019.
In Bhusate, the court ruled the claimant, whose husband died without a valid Will in 1990, was ‘effectively powerless’ to do anything sooner in the absence of agreement or engagement by her stepchildren. The judge decided that her husband’s children by his first wife had obstructed the sale of her residential property then they ‘did nothing’ to break the impasse for a further 23 years.
Chief Master Marsh added: ‘They have stood by until a claim was made and then taken a limitation point so as to deprive the claimant of her entitlement from the estate.’
The Judge noted that if this application was not granted, the claimant would be left with no remedy at all and no benefit from her husband’s estate, and would effectively be left homeless. The court took the view that this was unacceptable and that through no fault of her own, Mrs Bhusate had found herself in the position 25 years after the death of her husband that she faced receiving no share of his estate.
A complete official transcript of the judgement can be downloaded here at Bhusate v Patel Probate Judgment