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Inheritance Dispute?

The only way to decide who should get what when you die is to make a Will. If there is no Will the Intestacy Rules come into play. The Rules of Intestacy are very rigid. They stipulate how and to whom the Estate will be distributed - regardless of the Deceased’s wishes.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is there to provide protection for spouses, children, civil partners and other surviving dependants who were financially dependent on the deceased. If you believe you have not been left 'reasonable provision' or have been unfairly left out of a Will you may be able to make an inheritance claim.

It may be that somebody who did not receive anything from the Will feels they should have done. It may be that somebody did not receive a 'reasonable' amount. In either case, it is possible to make a claim for a share of the Deceased’s Estate. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 defines the grounds for such an inheritance claim.

1. Grounds for an Inheritance Claim

Under the Inheritance Act 1975, the Court will ask itself two questions:

  • a) Has the Will (or Intestacy Rules where there is no Will) failed to make reasonable financial provision for the Applicant? If so,
  • b)What would reasonable financial provision be in all the circumstances?

The factors relevant to the above two stage approach are dealt with below but first it is necessary to establish whether you are eligible to make an inheritance claim.

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2. Who can make an Inheritance claim?

Under the ‘Inheritance Act’ only certain classes of people are eligible to make a claim under the Act. They are as follows:-

  • a) The wife or husband of the deceased;
  • b) A former wife or former husband of the deceased who has not remarried;
  • c) A child of the deceased;
  • d) A person who is treated by the deceased as a child of the family;
  • e) Any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained by the deceased;
  • f) Any person living in the same household as the deceased as his or her husband or wife for two years ending immediately before the date of death.

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3. What is Reasonable Financial Provision?

This differs depending on who is making the claim under the Inheritance Act.

  • a) Where the Applicant is the husband or wife of the deceased, an amount as would be reasonable in all the circumstances, whether or not that is required for his or her maintenance.
  • b) In the case of any other Applicant, it is limited to an amount the he or she requires for his or her maintenance.

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4. What Matters will the Court take into account?

When deciding whether the Will or Intestacy Rules make reasonable provision for the Applicant and, if not, what reasonable provision would be, the Court will look at the following:-

  • a) The financial resources and needs of the Applicant now and in the future. The Court will take into account the earnings of the Applicant. If the Applicant does not work, it will take into account whether the Applicant is able to obtain employment.
  • b) The financial resources and needs any other Applicant has now and in the future.
  • c) The financial resources and needs of any Beneficiary of the Estate now and in the future.
  • d) Any obligations or responsibilities the Deceased had towards any Applicant or any Beneficiary of the estate.
  • e) The size and nature of the estate.
  • f) Any physical or mental disability of the Applicant or Beneficiary of the estate.
  • g) Any other matter, including conduct of the Applicant or any other person which should be taken into account.

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5. What Orders can the Court make?

If the Court has decided that the Will or Intestacy Rules did not make reasonable financial provision for the Applicant, the Court has a wide range of powers to re-distribute the assets of the Estate. The Court can make the following:

  • a) An Order that the Applicant should receive regular payments (known as “periodical payments”) out of the Estate, for as much and for as long as the Court considers reasonable;
  • b) An Order that the Applicant should receive a single lump sum out of the Estate;
  • c) An Order that some of the assets of the Estate should be transferred into the Applicant’s name;
  • d) An Order for the settlement of some of the assets of the Estate for the benefit of the Applicant (this means that the assets are held on trust for the Applicant);
  • e) An Order that some of the assets of the Estate should be used to purchase property for the benefit of the Applicant.

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6. Is there a time limit to making an inheritance claim?

There is a time limit in which a claim must be brought. Generally speaking, a claim must be issued at Court no later than 6 months after the Personal Representatives have obtained the Grant of Probate. If you are out of time then a claim can still be brought, but only with the permission of the Court and the Court rarely allows this. It is important you get in touch as soon as possible for legal advice on how to bring a claim. We provide a Free no obligation case assessment. Complete the form on the website or give us a call on 0345 163 2210.

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