We are often asked if there is anything that can be done if a will, or the Intestacy rules, fail to make adequate financial provision for a dependant or close family member. The answer often lies with the Inheritance Act 1975.
Generally speaking, everyone is free to dispose of their assets as they wish. This means we have freedom to choose who we want to benefit from our estate when we pass away.
However, the law does provide protection for certain classes of people who should be entitled to receive financial provision from a deceased's estate. This protection comes in the shape of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Inheritance Act claims can be made against the estate of the person who has died and if successful it overrides the terms of their will or the intestacy rules.
Who is entitled to make an Inheritance Act claim?
The Inheritance Act is there to help spouses, children, civil partners, cohabitees and other surviving dependants who have not been adequately provided for. If a will (or the intestacy rules) fails to make ‘reasonable financial provision’ and you fall into one of the categories of claimant, then you may be able to make a claim.
What does the court take into account?
When dealing with an Inheritance Act claim, the court will take into account the applicant’s financial needs. There is also a range of other factors that have to be taken into consideration, including:
- The age of the person making the claim;
- The duration of any marriage or relationship;
- The health of the applicant; and
- The size of the estate.
How we can help you bring or defend an Inheritance Act claim
Our solicitors have a extensive practical knowledge and professional expertise in the specialist field of Inheritance Act claims.
We are able to work on a no win, no fee basis where the circumstances allow.
We advise both individual claimants wishing to make a claim and beneficiaries who want to defend an Inheritance Act claim being brought against an estate.
Inheritance Act claims can be very complex and give rise to a number of complicated legal issues. It is therefore important to seek legal advice from specialist solicitors with an excellent track record of success.
To give you an idea of the issues that can arise, here are links to just a few of the articles we have written on Inheritance Act claims, giving more detailed information:
Inheritance Act claims can often be settled out of court through a mediation. We are firm advocates of mediation as a relatively fast and cost effective solution, along with all other types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
If you are considering an Inheritance Act claim, it is essential that you seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity. Remember, claims must be brought within 6 months of the grant of representation (probate) to the estate. If you have already left it too long we may still be able to help, as long as you act quickly.