What is the time limit for making an inheritance claim?

It is vitally important to be aware of the time limit for making an inheritance claim. This is what you should know.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows claims to be made for ‘reasonable financial provision’ from the estate of someone who has passed away.  This includes circumstances where that person has been left out of the deceased’s Will, or where the deceased died without a Will (intestate).  But what is the time limit for making an inheritance claim?

Claims under the Inheritance Act must be commenced within the limitation period, which is six months from the date of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

It is only possible to bring an Inheritance Act claim after the limitation date has passed in limited circumstances and permission will need to be obtained from the court in those circumstances. Permission is often refused by judges, so it is far safer to avoid the problem arising in the first place by ensuring that the claim is commenced within time.

However, where time is limited it is possible to effectively suspend or extend the limitation period with the agreement of all parties by way of a ‘limitation standstill agreement’.  Such agreements can be for a specific period of time, eg three or six months, or on a rolling basis, and are usually terminable by any party upon giving 28 days notice to the other parties.

Having a limitation standstill agreement in place enables the parties more time to try to resolve the dispute without commencing court proceedings and thereby avoiding a rapid escalation of legal costs.  Negotiations may be by way of informal negotiation or through alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation.

Please bear in mind that the six month time limit only applies to claims brought under the Inheritance Act, and not cases where the validity of a Will is being contested.

For further guidance on the time limit for making an inheritance claim, or for information on entering a limitation standstill agreement, contact our free legal helpline. Phone 0333 888 0407, use this form to request a free consultation, or simply email us at [email protected]

What is the time limit for making an inheritance claim?