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Dispute Resolution

Inheritance Act Claims

If you believe you should have been provided for in a Will, we can help you. We will work with you to understand your desired goals and we deliver results.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 provides a means by which a person can seek to challenge:

  1. the reasonableness of the wishes set out in the Will, or
  2. the effect of intestacy and gives the Court the power to alter the provisions appropriately.

For many years peoples’ last wishes could only be challenged by disputing the way the Will was made. This created an undesirable situation where the last wishes excluded, for whatever reason, people who the law considers should have benefitted from the estate. Equally, where a person died without making a Will, the strict intestacy rules can deny those who might otherwise have a legitimate interest in the estate.

In order to bring a successful claim, the person challenging the Will needs to be able to show that they are one of the specified people entitled to bring the claim, and that the Will, or intestacy rules, do not make reasonable financial provision. How the courts interpret the Inheritance Act depends on which type of claimant is making the claim.

Who can claim?

You can bring an Inheritance Act claim if you are either a:

  • spouse or civil partner
  • former spouse or civil partner who has not remarried
  • cohabitees who were living as husband and wife
  • child of the deceased (not limited to those under 18)
  • person treated as a child of the deceased as a result of a marriage
  • someone else who was being wholly or partly maintained by the deceased

What can be claimed?

That depends on the relationship to the deceased and what the Claimant needs.
Spouses and civil partners can seek to recover financial provisions as would be reasonable in all the circumstances for the spouse or civil partner to receive. Traditionally, a similarity has been drawn with the situation of divorce but the courts are not bound to follow this approach and can make whatever orders they choose.

All other claimants can seek to recover reasonable financial provisions for their maintenance. This means they need to provide evidence of their income and outgoings and the court will be careful only to award that which is necessary.

Time limits

There is a time limit of 6 months from the date of the grant of probate.
In some cases, the grant may not be taken out immediately. It is always a good idea to ask the Probate registry to enter a standing search against the person who died. A standing search lasts for 6 months and will tell you when the grant of probate has been made. It will also provide a copy of the Will. Standing searches can be renewed and there is a small fee to pay in each case.

Claims can be made out of time but there is no guarantee a court would accept your claim and late claims also prevent you from using all of the provisions in the Inheritance Act.

Why choose us

We understand that cost is a primary concern to you so we offer a free initial consultation with any potential claim, we will explain the cost options available to you and in some cases offer flexible cost options such as deferring payment, no-win-no-fee arrangements and fixed or capped fees.

We have a specialist team of contentious probate lawyers and have been bringing and defending Inheritance Act claims for many years including complex Inheritance Act claims, such as those involving:

  • adult children
  • illegitimate children
  • disabled claimants
  • secret civil partnerships
  • apparently insolvent estates

We are accredited by the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists.
We will work with you and guide you through the process step by step.

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