Do You Need an Inheritance Claim?
An inheritance claim arises where:
- a person has been left out of a will entirely or
- the gift under the will is not large enough or
- the distribution of a deceased person’s estate under the rules applying where the deceased died without a valid will is such that the person is cut out entirely or the gift is not large enough
and is therefore not sufficient to meet that person’s reasonable needs.
Professional, Helpful, & Expert Advice
A successful claim can result in the effective re-writing of the will or the imposition of an alternative outcome on the assets.
There often needs to be an element of financial dependency on the deceased prior to the deceased’s death.
There are quite strict time limits of six months in which to bring a claim but the time limit can be extended in appropriate cases.
It is also possible to challenge the way in which an executor administers an estate or bring a probate claim to the court seeking the assistance of the court in resolving a dispute which has arisen in the administration of a deceased person’s estate.
Understanding the Inheritance Act 1975
According to the Inheritance Act, 1975 enables a court to vary the distribution of the deceased’s estate for certain family members and dependants. With the exception of a surviving spouse, anyone else claiming under this Act is entitled to such reasonable financial provision as is necessary for their maintenance insofar as the estate can provide it.
A spouse or civil partner is entitled to such financial provision as is reasonable in all circumstances. ‘whether or not that provision is required for his or her maintenance’.
There is a time limit to bringing a claim for court proceedings which must be issued within six months of the date of the Grant of Probate. It’s important to act quickly and take legal advice from our team of Solicitors if you think you have a claim.
For all applicants (except for spouses and civil partners) reasonable financial provision is defined as being ‘such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the applicant to receive for his maintenance. For spouses and civil partners, financial provision is not limited to what is required for maintenance.
A claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 is subject to the same costs regime that applies to the adversarial litigation. Ultimately the court decides which party should pay the costs and although it is common for the costs to be recovered out of the estate although this isn’t guaranteed. Anyone bringing an inheritance claim (according to the 1975 act) needs to consider what would happen if their claim failed and the estate didn’t meet their costs.
How to defend against an Inheritance Act claim
As a beneficiary your priority will often be to secure as much of the estate is preserved as possible and protect the interest in the estate. If you are an executor you often have a duty to remain neutral as well as comply to strict procedural requirements.