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(Chancery Division; HHJ Behrens; 25 June 2008)
A bankrupt husband who had allegedly transferred assets to his wife in order to avoid his creditors applied for reasonable provision from his deceased wife's estate, worth in the order of £360,000. The couple had been separated for about 2 years before the wife's death.
The most relevant factors were the fact that the husband, now 73, was likely to be homeless in 3 weeks, and that he had been bankrupt with the result that all his former assets, including the former matrimonial home, vested in the trustee in bankruptcy. There was no evidence that the husband would be in a position to re-house himself. On these facts the principal concern of the court was to ensure that the husband had a roof over his head and sufficient means for his every day needs; it was not appropriate, however, for there to be a substantial additional capital award, because the husband had plainly dissipated funds, had given money to wife for his own purposes, and had not made any claim for maintenance from her in the years following the separation. The husband was given a life interest in £100,000, plus a lump sum of £25,000 to defray the cost of moving home.
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