The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows certain individuals to bring a claim for financial support against the estate of someone who has died.
Where someone was being maintained by the deceased before their death and that person has not been left anything in the Will or they consider that they need more, then they may be able to make a claim against the estate for reasonable financial provision.
It is possible for a claim to be settled by way of negotiation or mediation or it may need to be dealt with by the courts.
Who is entitled to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act?
Only certain individuals are entitled to make a claim, although the court will on occasion recognise a moral obligation to support someone in hardship. The following persons can make a claim where reasonable financial provision has not been made for them in the deceased’s Will and where they have financial needs or were dependent on the deceased for financial support:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Cohabiting partner who lived with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death
- A former spouse or civil partner who has not since married or entered into a civil partnership
- A child of the deceased
- Someone whom the deceased treated as their child
- Someone who was being financially maintained by the deceased
Reasonable financial provision
A spouse or civil partner can make a claim against the estate without having to show that they require reasonable financial provision, however other individuals will be required to demonstrate to the court that they depended on the deceased financially or that they are in need of support.
If their claim is accepted by the court, they will be entitled to reasonable financial provision to maintain them, except in the case of a spouse or civil partner, where the amount is not limited to maintenance.
Time limit for bringing an Inheritance Act claim
A claim should ideally be filed at court within six months of the date of the Grant of Probate. If this deadline has passed, you will need to ask the court for permission to apply out of time. In any event, it is strongly advised that you seek legal advice without delay if you believe you may have a claim and be entitled to a share of an estate.
How the court will decide
The court will look at a number of factors in deciding whether to grant a claim, including:
- The applicant’s financial needs and resources
- The financial needs and resources of any other applicant
- The financial needs and resources of the named beneficiaries
These needs are considered both at the present time and in the future.
- The size of the estate
- The deceased’s obligations and responsibilities
- Any disabilities that an applicant or beneficiary may have
When considering a claim made by a spouse or civil partner, issues such as the length of the relationship and the age of the claimant will be taken into account and the court will look at the matter in a similar way to considering a divorce settlement.
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