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    Inheritance Act claims

    In recent years, there has been a significant increase in Claims against Estates under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

    Whilst the reason for more Inheritance Act Claims being brought is not known for sure, changes to the traditional family structure, an increase in wealth (primarily due to property prices), and uncertain economic times, are believed to be part of the cause. There is far more “blended families”, second marriages, Children on both sides of relationships, more money in the Estate as a result of property prices rising over the years, and more people expecting and relying upon inheritances to assist their financial circumstances. 

    What is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975?

    The Inheritance Act is a piece of legislation which allows certain categories of people to pursue a Claim against an Estate if they either aren’t provided for or aren’t provided for adequately under the terms of a Will or the Rules of Intestacy.

    As a result, a Claim can be brought, seeking reasonable financial provision from the Estate under the Act. 

    Who can make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975?

    You may have a claim on an estate under the Inheritance Act if you are:

    • a spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
    • a former spouse or civil partner of the deceased, who has not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership;
    • a cohabitee of the deceased;
    • a child of the deceased;
    • a person who was treated by the deceased as if you were a child (i.e. a step-child); and/or 
    • a person who was financially maintained by the deceased

    What is the claim for?

    As mentioned above, the Claim is for “reasonable financial provision”. What this means depends upon who is bringing the Claim.

    If it is a Spouse or Civil Partner of the Deceased, then the Claim is for “reasonable financial provision”. 

    One aspect of this, which is considered by a Court, is what the Spouse or Civil Partner would have received if they had divorced on the day before the death. This is known as the “divorce hypothesis”.

    For all other types of Claimants, the Claim is for “reasonable financial provision, which is required for their maintenance”. 

    This essentially means that there has to be a “need” on the part of the Claimant, usually by way of (i) their income not meeting their outgoings, (ii) their having substantially debts, and / or (iii) their having some sort of future financial or accommodation need. 

    How long do you have to bring a claim for financial provision?

    It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you want to bring a Claim under the Inheritance Act. This is due to a normal time limit of six (6) months for a Claim to be started at Court from the date of a Grant of Probate being issued. 

    Where possible, it is always best to try to resolve matters amongst yourselves by way of mediation instead of going to Court. This will help keep both emotional and financial cost to a minimum.

    How we can help you

    Our Will and estate dispute lawyers offer expert legal advice on both bringing and defending Inheritance Act claims. We can:

    • Help you establish whether you are able to pursue a claim;
    • Help you establish whether you or someone else has been adequately provided for by an estate;
    • Help you bring a claim under the Inheritance Act against an estate;
    • Attempt to resolve the dispute outside of Court, primarily by way of engaging in Mediation (a structured form of negotiations); and/or 
    • Help you defend an Inheritance Act claim, whether you are an executor, personal representative or beneficiary of the etsate. 

    Our experience

    • Settled a Claim by a Child excluded from their Parents’ Estate on behalf of the Beneficiaries;
    • Acted on behalf of a Widow and her minor Children in pursuing a Claim against the mutli-million pound Estate of her late Husband;
    • Obtained an Award at Trial on behalf of a Step-Child who pursued a Claim against his late Step-Father’s Estate;
    • Represented Executors acting in relation to the Administration of an Estate against which a Claim was brought.



    For legal advice on Inheritance Act claims

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