Making a claim under the Inheritance Act
If someone close to you has died and you feel that you have been unfairly excluded from their estate, it may be possible to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975, commonly referred to as the Inheritance Act.
Only certain people can make a claim using this law and claims must be submitted within a short time period. It is therefore critical that you contact us as soon as possible after a death to seek expert legal advice as to whether you qualify and we can help you assess whether your claim is likely to be successful.
If you are out of time to bring a claim, you will need to make an application to Court requesting permission to bring the claim late. Our solicitors can provide advice about what factors the Court will consider in deciding whether or not to allow your application.
Who can make a claim under the Inheritance Act?
Normally only immediate family, or those very close to the deceased (such as an unmarried partner), including:-
- The spouse or civil partner of the deceased
- A child of the deceased (regardless of age)
- A person treated as a child of the deceased
- A former spouse or civil partner who has not since remarried or formed another civil partnership
- Someone who lived with the deceased for at least 2 years before their death (but not as a paying guest)
- Someone who has been financially supported by the deceased up until their death
What are the grounds for making a claim under the Inheritance Act?
The basis for making a claim is simply that ‘reasonable financial provision’ has not been made by the deceased for that person (called ‘the Claimant’).
There is no set formula for what ‘reasonable financial provision’ is and this is decided by the Courts on a case by case basis. The Inheritance Act provides guidance as to what factors the Court should consider when reaching its decision. These are discussed in greater detail below. The Court will also consider and be helped by earlier cases that have been decided.
It is up to you and your solicitor to show the Court that you are entitled to receive something from the estate, or if you have only been left a small amount, that the sum is not sufficient to meet your needs.
The following elements will be taken into account by the Court when deciding the merits of the claim:-
- The size and nature of the deceased’s estate
- The financial resources and financial needs which the Claimant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The financial resources and financial needs of any other Claimant on the estate, now and in the foreseeable future
- The financial resources and financial needs which any existing beneficiary of the estate has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- Any obligations and responsibilities the deceased had towards anyone applying for an Order or towards any existing beneficiary of the estate
- Any physical or mental disability of the Claimant or any existing beneficiary of the estate
- Any other matter, including the conduct of the Claimant or any other person, which in the circumstances of the case the Court may consider relevant
Every case is different and some Claimants may be entitled to claim a higher award than others based on their relationship with the deceased. You should bear in mind that the Court will not always make an award which might seem “fair” or “equal” to what others may have received from a loved ones estate. The Court will consider the individual Claimants circumstances and the factors listed above before reaching a decision.
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