The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 allows someone who was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death to make a claim against the estate. The claim is brought on the basis that the deceased’s Will or intestacy does not make sufficient financial provision for them.
People who are eligible to make a claim under the Act include:
- The spouse or civil partner of the deceased.
- Someone who has lived with the deceased during the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died, in the same household as the deceased and as the husband or wife of the deceased.
- A former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased (but not one who has formed a subsequent marriage or civil partnership).
- A child of the deceased.
- Any person (not being a child of the deceased) who was treated by the deceased as a child of the family.
- Any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained either wholly or partly by the deceased.
If you are eligible to make a claim, it is important to think carefully about your financial circumstances and what financial needs you have, both now and in the future. Ask our specialists whether they can act for you on a No Win No Fee basis.
Our Litigation Solicitors at Ridley & Hall have a wealth of experience and can identify the most effective way to pursue your inheritance dispute. We understand that the death of a loved one is a very distressing time and we pursue all of our cases with the utmost care and sensitivity.
If you are considering bringing an Inheritance Act claim, there are very strict time limits in place and so you should act as quickly as possible.
The time limit begins to run from the date of the Grant of Probate where the deceased left a will, or from the Grant of Letters of Administration if the deceased did not leave a will. The time limit is 6 months from that date and it means the date by which court proceedings need to be issued.
There are steps you must take before you are able to issue court proceeding so you should seek professional advice without delay.
Defending an Inheritance Claim
Perhaps you are an executor or beneficiary of an estate and you have received a Letter of Claim from someone who is not a beneficiary of the deceased’s estate. Or perhaps they are to receive an inheritance, but they believe they are entitled to more.
You may be both an executor and a beneficiary of the estate. It’s important that you understand that as an executor, you must remain neutral in any dispute, although you are entitled to express your opinions as a beneficiary. You might find it very upsetting to deal with a claim; you might dislike the person bringing it or feel that their case is entirely without merit. We can not only advise you how best to defend the claim, but we can also help you determine how best to respond in view of the nature of your involvement and explain any legal duties you might have.
We always make it our business to help you to balance the cost of defending a claim against the value of the claim being brought. We can advise you whether their claim has merit and how best to approach defending it.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Where a claim is brought under the Inheritance Act 1975 a claim must be brought within 6 months of the date of the Grant of Probate. Claims can be brought out of time – the Court will have regard to all the circumstances including the length of time itself, the reasons for the delay, how promptly the application has been made for leave once the right to claim has been discovered, whether there have been negotiations within the time limit and whether there has been distribution of the estate. Claims about the validity of a Will do not have a time limit but ought, for obvious reasons, to be brought before the estate has been distributed.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 provides equality for same sex couples after bereavement. The Act ensures that the surviving partner of a same sex couple is treated in law in the same way as a spouse.
If one partner dies, the survivor is entitled to bring a claim for financial provision against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The claim can be brought if the deceased’s will or intestacy does not make reasonable financial provision for their civil partner. The level of provision is the same as for spouses.
However the position is different for unregistered same sex couples. What they are entitled to claim is limited to “reasonable provision for maintenance”. Also, a child that was treated by them as being a child of the family has no entitlement to apply.
There is a deliberate and marked distinction between provision for those who have registered as a civil partnership and those who have not. In the same way, heterosexual couples who cohabit rather than marry are treated less favourably under the Act than couples who marry.
A final note of caution for same sex couples: entering into a civil partnership, like marriage, revokes a Will (unless that Will was prepared in contemplation of the civil partnership).