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Inheritance Act claims

The aim of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is to make further financial provision for those who:

  • have not inherited as a result of intestacy (where there is no will);
  • have been left out of a will entirely; or,
  • have not been left as much as they need.

In a case where reasonable financial provision has not been made, the Inheritance Act enables the court to vary the distribution of the deceased’s estate for certain family members and dependants.

With the exception of a surviving spouse or civil partner (who is entitled to more), anyone else claiming under the Inheritance Act 1975 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 the circumstances, ‘whether or not that provision is required for his or her maintenance’.

We regularly act for clients who want to bring or defend Inheritance Act claims. We are also very experienced in assisting in situations where the parties agree that the provisions of a will need to be altered but need help in working out the details. This is particularly common where children are involved or where there are issues regarding potential tax consequences.

Whatever the Inheritance Act issue, our legal advisers have the experience necessary to help you. 


Who can make an Inheritance Act claim?

You could be eligible to make an Inheritance Act claim if you were:

  • the spouse/civil partner of the deceased;
  • the former spouse/civil partner of the deceased who has not remarried or entered into a further civil partnership;
  • living with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death;
  • the deceased’s child (which includes an adult child);
  • treated as the deceased’s ‘child’ (for example, but not necessarily, adopted, fostered or a step-child); or
  • being “maintained” by the deceased.

We act for a range of clients from young children to the elderly and everyone in between. Our focus is on trying to secure the maximum gain for the minimum stress.

Our experience with Inheritance Act claims and case studies

We regularly act for clients who want to bring or defend Inheritance Act claims. We are also very experienced in assisting in situations where the parties agree that the provisions of a will need to be altered but need help in working out the details. This is particularly common where children are involved or where there are issues regarding potential tax consequences.

Whatever the Inheritance Act issue, our legal advisers have the experience necessary to help you. To find out more about how we can help in relation to an Inheritance Act claim contact us today on 029 2066 0563 or, if you would prefer, complete our enquiry form.

Defending against an Inheritance Act claim

Our expert team of solicitors can also help you if you are facing an Inheritance Act claim where you are a beneficiary or an executor/personal representative.

As a beneficiary your priority will often be to ensure that as much of the estate is preserved as possible, and to protect your interest in the estate. We have a proven track record in cases like these.

On the other hand, if you are an executor, you often have a duty to remain neutral as well as to comply with strict procedural requirements. We are on hand to guide you through the legal process.

Are there any time limits for Inheritance Act claims?

There is a very strict time limit of six months from the grant of representation or probate within which to bring a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

In exceptional circumstances it may be possible to extend the time limit and our team is on hand to help you if this is the case. The key is to seek legal help as soon as possible. Any delay can be fatal to a claim.

Case Studies

Hugh James advise in estate with assets in foreign jurisdictions where domicile was disputed and where there are minor beneficiaries

Roman Kubiak acts for the husband of the deceased in relation to claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and to set aside the deceased’s last will on the grounds of lack of capacity and lack of knowledge and approval.

This matter is particularly complex as the deceased and her husband were resident in Switzerland at the time of death and the deceased’s assets are split between France, Switzerland, Austria, Jersey and England.  As such, it has been necessary to establish the legal position abroad, to ensure that the claims brought in the UK marry up with any potential succession rules in each of the above jurisdictions, to consider the impact of forced heirship and matrimonial property regimes and tax considerations.

Further, the grant of probate was extracted on the basis that the deceased died domiciled in Switzerland, potentially excluding the husband from bringing a claim under the Inheritance Act.  This has been challenged and proceedings have been issued in the Royal Courts of Justice.

Financial security using the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

Matthew Evans, partner in the Hugh James specialist Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates Team, successfully obtained a favourable decision for his client in Cardiff County Court which was upheld in the Court of Appeal un the reported case of Iqbal v Ahmed [2011] EWCA Civ 900.

Our client, Mrs Mussarat Iqbal, was widowed after 22 years of marriage. Following her husband’s death she discovered that, under the terms of her husband’s will, she was left just £8000 and a right to live in the matrimonial home. That home was valued at £115,000 and required extensive repairs worth over £30,000 which she simply could not meet. There was, therefore, the very real possibility that she may not be able to carry on living in her home.

The remainder of her husband’s estate was left to his son from an earlier marriage.

The court heard that Mrs Iqbal, 61, was totally dependent on her husband prior to his death. She speaks limited English and effectively lived on state support and the £5 a week paid to her by her husband as pocket money.

An application was made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and the court agreed with the case brought by our team on Mrs Iqbal’s behalf that she had not received ‘reasonable financial provision’. As such, the court effectively rewrote Mrs Iqbal’s husband’s will to ensure to the effect that she now owns half of the property and has the right to stay in her home for life. She is also entitled to her husband’s residuary estate, which is valued at around £28,000.

The outcome ensures that Mrs Iqbal has far more financial security in her later years and demonstrates the court’s willingness to intervene if it feels that reasonable provision has not been made for an individual.

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