I am not the deceased’s biological child, am I entitled to bring a claim?
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 provides a right to any individual treated as a ‘child of the family’ to bring a claim under the deceased’s estate.
Am I considered to be a ‘child of the family’?
A child of the family is essentially a non-biological child of the deceased. The most obvious applicant in this category would be a stepchild of the deceased, related by marriage or partnership only.
In practice, a ‘child of the family’ extends to both minor and adult children. In order to establish that you are a child of the family, you must evidence that the deceased assumed the position of a parent and treated you in a way that they would have done if you were their biological child. There is no need for formalities such as adoption and instead, all that is necessary is to evidence the nature of your relationship with the deceased.
What am I entitled to claim as a ‘child of the family’?
A child of the family is entitled to claim for standard financial provision under the Act. Such provision extends to what is reasonable in all the circumstances for your maintenance.
Although there is no clear definition of ‘maintenance’, the Court tends to reach a middle ground by awarding beyond mere necessities without extending to luxuries one might ought to have.
What is ‘reasonable financial provision’?
To assess what is ‘reasonable financial provision’ for the applicant, the Court must consider various circumstances, including:
- The financial need and/or resources of the applicant now and in the future;
- The financial needs and/or resources of any other potential applicant now and in the future;
- The financial needs and/or resources of any beneficiary of the estate now and in the future;
- Any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards the claimant, applicant or beneficiary;
- The size and nature of the estate;
- Any physical or mental disability of the claimant, applicant or any beneficiary; and
- Any other matter the court considers relevant.
Is there a time limit for bringing this type of claim?
It is important to note that there is a limitation period of six months for these types of claims, triggered by the issue of a grant of probate. For this reason, it is important to act promptly when considering whether to bring a claim.
Relevant court proceedings should be issued within six months from the date of the grant of probate.