Daughter awarded share of father’s estate despite his wishes

A woman who was estranged from her father has been awarded £30,000 from his estate even though he disinherited his children in his will.

The court heard that Stanley Nahajec had left all his £265,000 estate to a friend. His three children got nothing.

Elena Nahajec, the only child from Mr Nahajec’s second marriage, made a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act 1975. She said her father had cut himself off from the family after his marriage broke down.

Ms Nahajec contacted him in 2007 and they rekindled their relationship. However, he cut himself off from her again in 2009 because he disapproved of her boyfriend. There was no further contact between them before Mr Nahajec died in 2015.

Ms Nahajec, aged 31, lived by herself in rented accommodation and worked as a retail assistant for 23 hours a week. She also had paid employment at a veterinary surgery for nine hours a week.

She hoped to become a qualified veterinary nurse; to gain the necessary experience, she worked an additional 10 to 15 hours at the surgery for no pay. She had debts of £6,600.

She hoped that money from her father’s estate would result in her being able to fund the courses she needed to become a registered veterinary nurse.

The court found in her favour and awarded her £30,000 from her father’s estate.

Judge Saffman held that, although she was an adult and was independent, her claim was based on the kind of qualifying relationship referred to in the recent landmark case, Ilott v Mitson.

She had a moral claim. There was no relationship between her and her father but that was not for want of trying on her part. She appeared to have had a father who was stubborn and intransigent.

She was far from well off. There was no evidence that she was significantly profligate or that she was not exploiting her earning capacity. She also had a genuine and not fanciful aspiration to improve herself by becoming a veterinary nurse. She had shown commitment by working a considerable number of hours unpaid.

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