The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 provides certain circumstances which allow an individual to make a claim against an estate.
Usually, a person’s Will or the intestacy rules will determine how their assets are distributed on their death. However, under the Inheritance Act, certain categories of people are entitled to bring a claim against an estate, namely:
- Husband, Wife or Civil Partner
- Former Husband, Wife or Civil Partner who has not remarried
- Unmarried partner that has lived with the deceased for two years
- Child (whether biological or not)
- Any other person financially dependant
To succeed in an inheritance claim, the applicant must show that they have not been adequately provided for in the Will or under the rules of intestacy.
Some different factors and considerations that apply to each category. For example, whilst a spouse can claim reasonable provision from the estate, other applicants must claim reasonable maintenance.
Other factors the Court will take into account include the financial situation of the applicant, the needs of any other beneficiaries and the size of the estate.
Our expert lawyers have specialist experience in dealing with Inheritance Act claims and our lawyers use their experience to guide clients through these often emotive and complicated claims.
What is an inheritance act claim?
A claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act) 1975 (an “Inheritance Act claim”) can be made by the following people:
Ex-spouse/ex-civil partner who has not remarried;
Cohabitee (living as a spouse/civil partner of the deceased for the preceding two years before death);
Child of the deceased;
A person who is treated as a child of the deceased; and
A dependant on the deceased.
When making an Inheritance Act claim many factors will need to be considered including the value of the estate, the needs of the beneficiaries and the needs of the applicant.
For spouses/civil partners, the test under the Inheritance Act is whether the deceased provided “reasonable provision”.
For all other applicants, the test is whether the deceased provided “reasonable provision for the applicant’s maintenance”. Each case is determined on its facts and the decision is at the discretion of the judge.
How do I challenge a Will?
There are a number of ways to challenge a Will. You may be concerned that the person who made the Will did not have capacity to do so or that they did not know and approve the contents of the Will. You may have concerns that the person making the Will was subjected to undue influence or you may have doubts as to whether the Will accurately reflected the testator’s instructions.
To challenge a Will, you will need to carry out investigative steps to assess the merits of the claim. Each of the above concerns relates to a different claim so different factors are necessary to consider. If you have concerns that the Will being presented is not valid, then it may be necessary to lodge a caveat with the Probate Registry to prevent a grant being taken out while you carry out further investigations.