Georgina Ray claims to be Sir Jimmy Savile’s daughter following her mother’s brief fling with him whilst she was working as a waitress in the 1970s. It is reported that Mrs Ray is currently awaiting the results of a DNA test which she believes will prove that she is the daughter of Sir Jimmy who died last October aged 84.
At the time of his death, Sir Jimmy is said to have been worth £7.8 million, the majority of which he left to charity.
If she is Sir Jimmy’s daughter is Mrs Ray is entitled to bring a claim, and, will she receive his fortune?
Phillip Gregory, a Partner in our Dispute Resolution Team and specialist in contentious probate claims considers these questions.
There is no doubt that if Mrs Ray can prove that she is Sir Jimmy’s daughter she is entitled to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Inheritance Act”).
Under Section 1 (1) (c) of the Inheritance Act, a child of the deceased is entitled to bring a claim.
Interestingly, any person not a child of the deceased but who was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in a marriage is also entitled to bring a claim under Section (1) (1) (d) of the Inheritance Act. Claims under both Sections (1) (1) (c) and (1) (1) (d), may be brought by an adult child, even if in the case of an application under Section (1) (1) (d), the child was an adult throughout the duration of the deceased’s marriage.
Claims under the Inheritance Act must be brought promptly and within six months of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. At first sight, whilst Mrs Ray’s claim might appear out of time, the Court does have a discretion to extend the six month deadline where circumstances justify it doing so.
The next hurdle for Mrs Ray to overcome is to persuade the existing Beneficiaries of Sir Jimmy’s Estate, or failing that the Court, that his Will does not make reasonable financial provision for her.
‘Reasonable financial provision’ is defined by the Inheritance Act as ‘such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the Applicant to receive for his maintenance’.
Some might argue in a case such as this that it is perfectly reasonable for Mrs Ray to receive no provision from the Estate. Others might argue to the contrary.
Section 3 of the Inheritance Act offers some guidance listing a number of factors that the Court is required to take into account, including:
- the financial resources and needs of the Applicant
- the financial resources and needs of any other Applicant
- the financial resources and needs of any Beneficiary
- any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards any Applicant or towards any Beneficiary
- the size and nature of the Estate
- any physical or mental disability of any Applicant or Beneficiary
- any other matter which the Court might consider relevant.
After balancing the above factors, Phillip thinks it likely that Mrs Ray will receive a share but he doubts that her share would extend to anything like Sir Jimmy’s fortune.
Whilst the Court might be prepared to interpret the phrase ‘reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the Applicant to receive for his maintenance’, generously for the purposes of Mrs Ray’s claim, it is difficult to see how that generosity might possibly extend to anything like £7.8million.
Is Mrs Ray entitled to bring a claim – probably yes. Is she entitled to Sir Jimmy’s £7.8 million fortune, probably no.
If you feel that you may have a claim against the Estate of somebody who has recently passed away on the basis that you have not received reasonable financial provision, then you should contact our specialist team of Contested Probate lawyers