Salvador Dali Estate Dispute ‘Shows Lengths Some Go To In Relation to Inheritance Claims’

Dali’s Exhumation Marks New Chapter In Ongoing Inheritance Dispute

Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth’s Will, Trust and Estate Disputes Team has said that Dali’s exhumation highlights the lengths disputes can go to when attempting to establish an inheritance claim.

Dali’s body was exhumed last week after Pilar Abel obtained a court order to do so as ruled by a Madrid judge. The exhumation will determine whether Abel is Dali’s daughter and is therefore allowed to make a claim to be recognised in the eyes of the law as his legal heir.

Paula Myers, Head of the Will, Trust and Estate Disputes Team, commented: “We are seeing more and more inheritance claims go to lengths further than ever before – the Salvador Dali exhumation marks a ten-year struggle to establish a claim and even this stage is not the end of the legal battle.

If Abel manages to establish a claim to the estate, as the daughter of Salvador Dali she would be entitled to 25 per cent of the estate.

The high-profile case draws attention to the fact that inheritance claims are increasing in frequency and complexity in the UK: according to the Royal Courts of Justice’s official figures, between the period of January to December 2016 there was a large increase in claims issued under the Inheritance Act 1975, rising from 116 claims in 2015 to 158 claims in 2016.

There have also been recent developments in case law concerning inheritance claims, such as the recent decision by His Honour Judge Saffman to allow the estranged daughter of the deceased Stanley Nahajec to receive £30,000 from her father’s £240,000 estate. The Nahajec was the first case to be heard by the Courts since the high-profile Supreme Court decision of Ilott v The Blue Cross in March this year.

Paula Myers, National Head of the Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team, said: “While the exhumation of a body to establish a claim is unusual, long legal battles are not unheard of.  Whilst most cases are resolved quickly and at reasonable cost, it is impossible to predict the behaviour of an opponent and therefore some litigants find themselves engaged in a dispute for the long-haul. If the case is contentious enough or if it involves a unique point of law, it can pass through several courts and take years to pass down a final judgment.

“The difficulty for Ms Abel is that even if she is proven to be related to Dali, she is likely to have to embark on a further dispute with the Foundation and the Spanish state, to which he left his works.”

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