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Inheritance Act Claims – Delay defeats wife’s claim
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 provides a mechanism for disappointed family members and other dependants to bring claims against someone’s estate to seek additional sums where the will (or the rules governing situations where there is no will) does not make sufficient financial provision for them.
There are a number of hurdles a successful applicant needs to overcome. One of the most important is that the claims must be brought within 6 months of the date of the grant of probate (not the date of death). Exceptionally, you can bring a claim outside of this time limit but you have to show good grounds for doing so.
In the recent case of Sargeant v Sargeant, the wife of the deceased farmer sought to bring a claim 10 years after the date of the grant of probate. Much of the farmland was caught up in a trust (which had doubled in value to c.£8m by the time of the claim). The reason for the delay stems from a dispute between the family about how some of the farmland was held and whether it was in fact owned by the deceased person and so was not caught up in the trust and would then go to the wife personally.
The Court decided not to allow the claim to be made late and said there was no change in circumstances or other special reason why the claim should be allowed out of time. It is a useful reminder that the Court will not always exercise discretion to allow late claims even where the parties’ positions may not have changed radically from the date of the grant of probate.
Tozers offer a range of funding options including no-win-no-fee arrangements for these sorts of claims as we as a free initial consultation. If you would like to know more, please contact our specialist contentious probate team on 01392 207020.