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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 been left out of a will 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 advisors 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.

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.

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