February 23, 2024

Wife who travelled with husband to Dignitas will not be disinherited

High Court ruling will make it easier to access assisted suicide

A woman who travelled with her husband to a Swiss suicide clinic will be able to inherit his £1.8 million estate, a High Court judge in the United Kingdom has ruled in an important test case.

Sarah Ninian, 63, travelled with her husband Alex, 84, to Dignitas in November 2017 after he was diagnosed with a progressive incurable disease and was unable to get there by himself.

Mrs Ninian, the sole beneficiary of her husband's will, could have been denied access to his estate, because English law bars inheritance if a beneficiary has been involved in a person's “unlawful killing”.

But her solicitor successfully argued before the High Court that the “forfeiture rule” should be waived. He told The Telegraph (London) that the ruling will affect other people who fear helping relatives or friends to travel to Switzerland because they might be disinherited.

Mrs Ninian told the court that she had tried to dissuade her husband from assisted suicide. Her husband had been affected by a progressive paralysis which made it difficult for him to swallow, move his eyes, talk or walk. According to The Telegraph, “He had instructed lawyers to prepare a statement in which he said his wife had been opposed to his decision, had not pressurised him to make it and only accompanied him to Zurich because he could not travel there unaided.”

Mrs Ninian said: “Alex was my soulmate for 40 years and it is very hard to cope with losing him. Everything that I did for him I did because he asked me to, and because I loved and cared for him too much to refuse.”

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