The Court have reached a decision regarding the inheritance battle between two stepsisters. Neither of the deceased’s left a Will, and so the case relied on establishing who had died first to see who inherited under the intestacy rules.
One of the sisters relied on a near century-old law to win the case.
“The “Commorientes Rule” in Section 184 of the Law of Property Act 1925 – meaning “simultaneous deaths” – states that if it cannot be determined who has died first then the younger person should be presumed to have outlived the elder.” Given modern medicine and the advancement of technology it is unusually for there to be a dispute regarding the order of death. However, it was impossible to establish this beyond reasonable doubt and so the Judge used the law old law to decide the case.
The results means that one of the stepsisters walks away with the property, whilst the other at least £150,000 in legal costs .If both of the Deceased’s had taken appropriate legal advice and prepared Wills then this scenario could have been avoided. It’s so important to put you affairs in order to protect your legacy when you are gone.
Anna Winter, Mr Scarle's daughter, argued that her stepmother, Mrs Scarle, was likely to have died first and that meant that her father technically inherited the house, which should therefore be passed on to her.
But her stepsister, Deborah Cutler, Mrs Scarle's daughter, argued that it could not be said for certain who passed away first and so legally her mother, the younger party, should inherit the property.
Mrs Cutler relied on a near century-old law to win the case.
The 'Commorientes Rule' in Section 184 of the Law of Property Act 1925 - meaning 'simultaneous deaths' - states that if it cannot be determined who has died first then the younger person should be presumed to have outlived the elder.