Inheritance Act Claims

Where someone dies, with or without a Will, family and dependants may find that they will not inherit from the estate or the inheritance is more limited than expected.

Family arrangements can be complicated and that gives rise to many reasons why claims are made, for example, where the deceased may have been married several times with children from each marriage or unmarried couples where one dies without leaving a Will.

The Law can potentially help to enable a claim to be made against the estate. Whilst we will always advise our clients on the likely success of any claim, whether they are claimants, executors or other affected parties, we always encourage discussion and engagement between the parties to see if any agreement can be reached.
That engagement may be formal, using mediation, or it may be the parties hold their own discussion with the benefit of understanding the issues. Any agreement may mean compromise, but family relationships can be preserved and legal costs saved. Where agreement is reached, we can then assist in drafting the necessary documentation.

Can I claim and how much?
The law for this type of claim is set out in the, Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
There are two key elements:

  1. Only listed family members and dependants may claim. These are:
    – The spouse or civil partner of the deceased.
    – The former spouse or civil partner who has not remarried.
    – Any person during the whole period of 2 years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died who was living in the same household as the deceased as husband / wife / same-sex partner.
    – A child of the deceased and that includes “adult children”.
    – A person who was treated as a child of the family.
    – Any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained wholly or partly by the deceased.
  2. The court can only award “reasonable financial provision”, which is determined by reference to a number of factors in the Act. The provision is more generous to spouses and civil partners where the award is “such financial provision as it would be reasonable to receive whether or not that provision is required for their maintenance”. In the case of other claimants the potential award is limited to their “maintenance” only, which is a far lower award.

Time limit
These claims should be brought within 6 months of the Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration. We can check that date for you. After 6 months there are potential problems because the executors can then distribute the estate and the court’s permission is needed to bring a claim.

Executors / personal representatives
Executors / personal representatives involved in this type of claim must remain strictly neutral and we can advise you on how you need to act when dealing with a claim.