Frequently Asked Inheritance Dispute Questions

“Say not you know another entirely till you have divided an inheritance with him.”

These are the words of eighteenth century philosopher, and sadly they remain as true today as when he wrote them.

If despite all your best efforts you find that an inheritance claim cannot be avoided then don’t delay in seeking professional legal advice from specialist solicitors. Inheritance Act claimants need to be particularly aware of the six month rule.

We operate a free legal helpline. You can call for a free case assessment and details of No Win, No Fee funding.

In the meantime here are some frequently asked inheritance dispute questions to help you.

WHAT IS THE INHERITANCE (PROVISION FOR FAMILY AND DEPENDANTS) ACT 1975?

Most inheritance claims are brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, often known as the Inheritance Act or simply the 1975 Act.

1975 Inheritance Act claims can be brought in cases where a valid Will has been made, or where no Will exists and the intestacy rules apply.

The 1975 Inheritance Act empowers the courts to redistribute the deceased’s estate where the Will or intestacy rules fail to make “reasonable financial provision” for the applicant.

ARE THERE ANY IMPORTANT TIME LIMITS?

Time limits are crucial in legal cases and inheritance disputes are no exception. The time limit that cause most problems is the 6 month time limit that runs from the date of probate in Inheritance Act claims. It is for this reason that it is dangerous to delay and we would recommend speaking to a specialist solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Furtther details about time limits are contained in this article.

WHAT IS A LARKE v NUGUS STATEMENT?

A Larke -v- Nugus statement is a statement that is provided by a solicitor or will writer giving background information on the circumstances surrounding the making of a will.

WHO CAN BRING A CLAIM UNDER THE 1975 INHERITANCE ACT?

It is open to surviving wives, husbands, co-habitees, children (including step children and children of the family), civil partners or anyone being maintained by the deceased to bring an inheritance claim under the 1975 Inheritance Act.

In the last few years solicitors have seen a substantial increase in inheritance claims. This seems to be due to three main factors:-

1. The increase in property prices; which has resulted in the value of estates soaring.

2. The prevalence of second or even third families; which leads to increased scope for inheritance dispute.

3. The public’s increased awareness of the legal position concerning inheritance claims.

WHAT IS “REASONABLE FINANCIAL PROVISION” IN THE CONTEXT OF THE 1975 INHERITANCE ACT?

People often ask us about “Reasonable Financial Provision”. This is the legal term used in the 1975 Inheritance Act and its definition varies from claim to claim. The big difference is between inheritance claims brought by surviving spouses and inheritance claims brought by other categories of claimant.

If the Inheritance Act claim is being brought by a spouse of the deceased then “Reasonable Financial Provision” will be such financial provision as would be reasonable for a husband or wife to receive, whether or not that provision is required for their maintenance.

For all other people making an Inheritance Act claim, “Reasonable Financial Provision” means such financial provision as would be reasonable for their maintenance.

DO I NEED A SOLICITOR?

If an inheritance claim arises under the Inheritance Act it is usual for the beneficiaries, the executors and the person bringing the claim to all be separately represented by their own solicitor.

Solicitors have to be careful not to allow situations to develop where a conflict of interest arises. Executors must take a neutral approach to inheritance claims and if solicitors are already involved in winding up the estate then the beneficiaries really need to appoint separate lawyers.

WHO PAYS THE LEGAL COSTS OF AN INHERITANCE CLAIM?

It is important for anyone bringing or defending an inheritance claim to consider how much it will cost and how those costs will be paid.

The costs of an Inheritance Act claim will generally be paid either by the estate, or the party that loses. If agreement cannot be reached the court will decide. 

If we are dealing with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis then you do not have to pay our legal costs if you lose.

HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF PROBATE HAS BEEN GRANTED?

It is often important to know if probate has been granted. For instance the time limit in an Inheritance Act claim is calculated as 6 months from the date of probate. But how do you find out? You can find the answer here by reading our guide to discovering if probate has been granted.

HOW CAN I GET A COPY OF A WILL?

This is another issue that frequently arises. If probate has been granted then the will can be easily accessed as it's a public document. But before the grant of probate is issued it can cause difficulties. We have dealt with this question in much more detail in our article, How can I get a copy of a will? 

FURTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT INHERITANCE CLAIMS

We hope this brief FAQ has been helpful. However, if you require further guidance on inheritance act claims or wish to know more about your prospects of bringing a successful claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act then please contact us for free initial legal help.