In re Beaumont, Deceased; Martin v Midland Bank Trust Co Ltd: 1980

The words in the section ‘immediately before’ in the context of the maintenance of the claimant by the deceased before the death, were not to be construed literally. The situation was to be viewed as the general arrangements for maintenance in place at the time of the death. In this case a short stay in hospital prior to death is not sufficient to prevent the claim. ‘The contemplation of possible examples such as these suggests certain consequences. First, it seems to me improbable that the word ‘immediately’ in section 1(1)(e) was intended to confine the gaze of the court to whatever was the state of maintenance existing at that precise moment. I very much doubt whether Parliament can have intended people to shuffle in and out of section 1(1)(e) and (3) with every variation in the state of maintenance between them, so that last week C was partly maintaining D with substantial contributions, this week neither is maintaining the other, and the next week D will be maintaining C with substantial contributions. Given that the moment at which the examination must be made is therefore the moment before the death of the deceased, what has to be examined ought not, I think, to be the de facto state or balance of maintenance at that moment, but something more substantial and enduring.
The question is what that something is. If at the moment before the death of the deceased there is some settled basis or arrangement between the parties as regards maintenance, then I think that section 1 should be applied to this, rather than to any de facto variation in the actual maintenance that may happen to exist at that moment. If the general arrangements between the parties is that D is substantially maintaining C, then matters ought to be decided on that basis. This should be so even if at the moment before D dies, C is in fact making such contributions, whether in personal services such as nursing or in the provision of money or goods, that on balance C is substantially maintaining D. The word ‘immediately’ plainly confines the court to the basis of the arrangement subsisting at the moment before death and excludes whatever previously subsisted but has ended and the state of affairs under it.’
References: [1980] 1 Ch 444, [1980] 1 All ER 266
Judges: Robert Megarry VC
Statutes: Inheritance (Provision for Family and Defendants) Act 1975 1
This case is cited by:

  • Approved – Jelley v Illife CA 1981
    The court referred to the case of In re Beaumont and continued: ‘In considering whether a person is being maintained immediately before the death of the deceased, it is the settled basis or general arrangement between the parties as regards . .
    ([1981] Fam 128, [1981] 2 All ER 29)
  • Cited – Gully v Dix; In re Dix deceased CA 21-Jan-2004
    The claimant sought provision from the estate under the Act. She had cohabited with the deceased for many years, but had moved out several months before the death because of her concern for his drunkenness which lead to threats of self harm.
    (Times 28-Jan-04, , [2004] EWCA Civ 139, [2004] 1 FLR 918)
  • Cited – Witkowska v Kaminski ChD 25-Jul-2006
    The claimant sought provision from the estate claiming to have lived with the deceased as his partner for the two years preceding his death. She appealed an order which would be enough to allow her to live in Poland, but not in England. She said . .
    (, [2006] EWHC 1940 (Ch))

These lists may be incomplete.
Last Update: 27 November 2020; Ref: scu.193411