The case of Ubbhi v Ubbhi concerned the estate of Malkiat Singh Ubbi. Mr Ubbhi lived somewhat of a double life and had two families.

His first family consisted of his wife and adult child, although his adult child was unable to live independently. His second relationship consisted of his new partner and their two very young children, Mattia and Gabrielle. Mr Ubbhi died suddenly, aged 53. At the time of his death his divorce to his wife was almost finalised. His will, dated before the birth of his two minor children, left his entire estate to his wife. As the divorce had not been finalised at the date of Mr Ubbhi’s death, the will was valid and his entire estate passed to his wife.

The value of the estate was in the region of £4.5m.

The law

Under section 2 of Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Act) Matthia and Gabrielle were able to advance a claim against their late father’s estate for their reasonable financial provision.

There was no disagreement between the parties that Matthia and Gabrielle should receive a lump sum from the estate for their maintenance. The dispute arose as to how much they required in terms of their housing needs, childcare and private schooling. The children’s mother acted as their litigation friend and represented them throughout the trial.

Pursuant to section 3 of the Act, the court was to have regard to the following when deciding an appropriate award for maintenance:

  • the financial resources and financial needs which the applicant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • the financial resources and financial needs which any other applicant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • the financial resources and financial needs which any beneficiary of the estate of the deceased has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards any applicant or towards any beneficiary of the estate of the deceased
  • the size and nature of the net estate of the deceased
  • any physical or mental disability of any or any beneficiary of the estate of the deceased
  • any other matter, including the conduct of the applicant or any other person, which in the circumstances of the case the court may consider relevant.

As the applicants in this case were minor children, the court must also consider the education requirements of the children in question.

The decision

The court assessed the children's housing need now and in the future, in addition to the childcare costs that their mother would incur. Their mother gave evidence that the death of Mr Ubbhi meant that she was forced to return to work a lot sooner and for many more hours than she had wanted to. With no family based in the UK, she required extensive childcare assistance. The court applied great weight to the children’s housing and childcare needs.

However, with regard to private schooling, the court found that Mr Ubbhi had not clearly demonstrated his desire for both of the children to attend private school. What's more, with a pending divorce this would likely have been unaffordable. Additionally, the state school that the children were attending was classified as 'outstanding' by Ofsted so the judge had no concerns that the children would receive a high level of education.

The court awarded Matthia and Gabrielle approximately £1.4m from the estate of their late father for their maintenance.