If you have been left out of a loved one’s will or have not been reasonably provided for by a loved one’s estate them, you may be entitled to make a claim. Under the Inheritance (Provision for family and dependents) Act 1975, it allows certain individuals to claim financial provision from an estate. For an example a surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to such financial provision as is reasonable in all the circumstances, which means they are entitled to enjoy the same standard of living which they enjoyed before their partner’s death.
However, for other individuals’ other classifications such as reasonable financial provision are based on that individual’s maintenance needs as long as the estate can provide it.
Who can make an Inheritance Claim?
- a spouse or civil partner of the deceased (or former spouses or civil partners who have not remarried or entered into another civil partnership);
- an unmarried partner of the deceased who lived with them;
- in a relationship with the deceased for at least two years before their death;
- a child of the deceased (including legally adopted children);
- a person who the deceased treated as a child; or
- a person who was financially dependent on the deceased.
How are these claims assessed?
The Court will consider a variety of factors such as:-
- Financial circumstances of the individual bringing the claim and the beneficiaries of the estate;
- The size and nature of the estate;
- The obligations and responsibilities the deceased had towards the individual bringing the claim and any beneficiary;
- Any mental or physical disabilities of the parties; and
- Any other relevant factors.
The claims are made against the deceased’s “net estate” and is calculated by adding all the assets of the estate and then taking away any debts. Joint assets such as property can also be included in this calculation.
How are these claims resolved and funded?
Most claims are resolved via mediation or through a negotiated settlement, very few require a final court hearing.
We seek to make an early assessment of the merits of your case and look to find a way to fund your case in a way that works for you. We offer flexible pricing options tailored to your needs to include conditional fee agreements and deferred options.
What is the time limit to make a claim?
If you are looking to contest probate under the Inheritance Act, then you should do this as soon as possible and at least within 6 months of the grant of probate being granted. This can be extended in certain limited circumstances. Strictly, there is no time limit for disputing a will particularly if there is fraud involved, but it is very important to act prior to the grant of probate if possible, to prevent the estate from being distributed.
How our experience can help
We have acted in many cases disputing the validity of Wills and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
Inheritance, Wills & Trust Disputes Team
Dagmara Kulczykowska Partner
Private Client Services 01908 689341Dagmara is Head of the Department and has many years of experience in all aspects of private client work. Dagmara’s strengths are working with families on very sensitive and emotive matters, providing them with specialist legal advice. She ensures clients are supported but also advised clearly and comprehensively on the legal issue(s) at hand so that they can make an informed decision.