We are often asked if there is anything that can be done if a will (or the Intestacy rules) fail to make adequate financial provision for a dependant or close family member.
Generally speaking, everyone is free to dispose of their assets as they want to. This means we have freedom to choose who we want to benefit from our estate when we pass away.
The law does provide protection for certain classes of people who should be entitled to receive financial provision from a deceased's estate. This protection comes in the shape of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. A claim can be made against the estate, which if successful will override the terms of any will.
Who is entitled to make a claim?
The Inheritance Act is there to help spouses, children, civil partners, cohabitees and other surviving dependants who have been left to cope without sufficient money to enable them to get by. If a will (or the intestacy rules) fails to make ‘reasonable financial provision’ and you fall into one of the categories of claimant, then you may be able to make a claim.
What does the court take into account?
When dealing with an Inheritance Act claim, the court will take into account the applicant’s needs and resources and consider these against what would be reasonable for their maintenance. Section 3 of the Inheritance Act sets out a range of factors that have to be taken into consideration.
If a spouse or civil partner makes an claim against an estate, the court will take into account a number of factors such as:
- The age of the person making the claim
- The duration of the marriage
- The contribution to the welfare of the family that has been made by the person bringing the claim
- The provision that the person bringing the claim might reasonably have expected to receive if the marriage had been terminated by divorce
How we can help you bring or defend an Inheritance Act 1975 claim
Our solicitors have a extensive practical knowledge and professional expertise in this field. We are able to work on a no win, no fee basis where the circumstances allow.
We advise both individual claimants wishing to make a claim for adequate financial provision and beneficiaries who want to defend their interests under a disputed will.
You will find on this site a number of articles giving more detailed information about Inheritance Act claims such as:
Inheritance Act claims should if possible be mediated out of court. We embrace all types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a more speedy, cost-effective option to court.
If you are considering a claim under the Inheritance Act, it is essential that you seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity. Remember, claims must be brought within 6 months of the grant of representation to the estate. If you have already left it too long we may still be able to help, as long as you act quickly.