If a person has passed away, leaving inadequate or allegedly inadequate financial provision for certain parties, a claim may be brought against the deceased person’s estate. Such applications can be challenging, particularly at such an emotional time, so it is vital to have the assistance of a specialist legal team.
We have experience acting for those who wish to claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and in defending claims made against the estate. To discuss your case and circumstances with an experienced member of our team, call us today on 01709 828 044 or complete our online contact form and we will get back to you right away to arrange a suitable appointment.
Making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Inheritance Act) allows specific categories of persons to make an application to the Court to claim against a deceased person’s estate. The basis of the claim is that the deceased party did not make sufficient financial provision for them. This does not only apply to circumstances where the deceased left a Will, but a claim may also be made where the deceased died intestate (without making a Will).
Who can make a claim under the Inheritance Act?
Only particular categories of persons may bring a claim under the Inheritance Act. This is limited to:
- a spouse or civil partner of the person who has passed away
- a former spouse or civil partner of the person who has passed away, but only where the person making a claim has not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership
- any person who was living with the deceased as spouse or civil partner for two years before the death
- any child of the deceased, or a person who was treated as a child of the deceased (such as a stepchild or child of a partner)
- any other person who was ‘maintained’ either directly or indirectly, by the deceased before their death.
‘Maintained’ for the purposes of the act means that they were financially supported in some way. This could be living rent-free in the home of the deceased or being given lifetime gifts.
When can a claim be brought under the Inheritance Act?
Claims under the Inheritance Act must be brought within six months of Grant of Probate, or within six months of Probate letters being issued. If a person wishes to bring a claim after this date, it will be at the discretion of the Court, whether to allow the application to proceed. It will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances where the person was in some way prevented from bringing a claim earlier.
How will the Court decide?
In order to make a decision about a claim under the Inheritance Act, the Court will consider three things:
- Whether the Will or intestacy rules give reasonable financial provision for the applicant.
- Whether the Court should intervene to make further provision from the estate of the deceased.
- The type of provision that may be appropriate.
The answer to these questions will depend on a range of factors, including the category of person making the application. Whether reasonable financial provision has been made will be assessed objectively by the Court, with reference to all relevant circumstances. There are, however, specific criteria the Court must consider set out under the Inheritance Act. These are:
- The financial needs and resources of the person bringing the claim, as well as the other beneficiaries of the estate.
- Any obligations that the deceased had towards the applicant and other beneficiaries of the estate.
- The nature and size of the estate and assets
- Any mental or physical disability of the applicant or other beneficiaries
- Any other relevant matter, including the conduct of the parties.
Where the person bringing the claim is a spouse or civil partner, the Court will consider what may have been received by the applicant should the marriage/civil partnership have ended in divorce or dissolution.
What are the remedies available?
The Court has the power to make a variety of orders suitable for the situation. Including:
- Awarding a lump sum to be paid from the estate, either for general use or a specific purchase
- An order requiring regular, smaller sums to be paid to the applicant for maintenance
- The sale and division of proceeds of a property
- An order declaring that property will be held in trust for the applicant and other beneficiaries
The powers of the Court in such cases are broad and varied, but we will always advise on the potential outcomes and a satisfactory conclusion for your circumstances and needs.
Inheritance Act claims are a highly technical and challenging area of law. Our solicitors are experts in Wills, Trusts, Probate and estate planning and can help you navigate the process.
Contact our Solicitors for Inheritance & Contentious Probate / Disputed Wills Claims
The specialist inheritance and litigation solicitors at Wilford Smith have many years of experience acting on behalf of both applicants and beneficiaries to settle Inheritance Act claims. Our litigation experts will work hard to achieve an efficient and appropriate settlement for your circumstances. We have a proven track record in delivering practical legal advice, getting to know our clients and the intricacies of their dispute in detail.
Speak to a member of our team today by calling 01709 828 044 or complete our online enquiry form to find out how we can help.