Inheritance Act Claims

If you’ve been left out of a will or the lack of a will has left you struggling financially, you may be entitled to bring an Inheritance Act claim. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (‘the Inheritance Act’) allows certain people to claim financial provision from an estate.

We offer free, no-obligation consultations and flexible pricing options, tailored to your needs.

What is the Inheritance Act 1975?

The Inheritance Act is a legal act of Parliament which allows certain people to make a claim for “reasonable financial provision” from a deceased person’s estate.

A surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to such financial provision as is reasonable in all the circumstances, whether or not it is required for their maintenance. This often means that a spouse or civil partner would be entitled to enjoy the same standard of life which they enjoyed before their partner’s death.

Anyone else claiming under the Inheritance Act is entitled to such reasonable financial provision as is necessary for their maintenance, insofar as the estate can provide it.

Who can make an Inheritance Act claim

You can make an Inheritance Act claim if you were:

  • the spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  • the former spouse or civil partner of the deceased who has not remarried or formed a new civil partnership;
  • in a relationship with the deceased for at least two years before their death;
  • the deceased’s child (which includes an adult child);
  • treated as the deceased’s child, for example if you were adopted, fostered, a step-child or close grandchild; or
  • being maintained financially in any away by the deceased.

Our Inheritance Act solicitors have significant experience in acting helping our clients achieve the maximum amount of financial provision as quickly as possible in Inheritance Act claims.

Similarly, we have a strong track record in defending Inheritance Act claims quickly and cost-effectively.

Key contact

Roman is a partner and head of the contested wills, trusts and estates team. He advises across the whole spectrum of private client litigation, with a particular focus on high value, complex and cross-border disputes including: trust disputes, breach of trust claims and applications to remove trustees; will disputes, particularly those with an international element; claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; and claims for equitable relief under proprietary estoppel, constructive trusts and resulting trusts.

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Unmarried partner awarded over £400,000 from estate

Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu and Roman Kubiak acted for the successful claimant in the widely reported case of Thompson v Raggett [2018] EWHC 688 (Ch).

Our client, 79-year-old Joan Thompson, was entirely left out of her partner, Wynford Hodge’s, estate which was valued at over £1.5m despite them having been together for 42 years

We were able to secure an award of over £400,000 for Joan at the High Court which consisted of a property worth £225,000, a £160,000 lump sum for Joan’s future maintenance and care and £28,845 to renovate her property.

Husband secures c.£1m settlement from deceased wife’s estate

Roman Kubiak acted 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.

The matter was particularly complex as the deceased and her husband were, at various times, resident across mainland Europe with assets likewise split between various countries across Europe.

As such, it was necessary to establish the legal position abroad and liaise with the authorities to ensure that any judgment in the UK would be enforceable in the various foreign jurisdictions as well as to consider the impact of forced heirship and matrimonial property regimes and tax considerations.

Further, the grant of probate was originally extracted on the basis that the deceased died domiciled in Switzerland, potentially excluding the husband from bringing a claim under the Inheritance Act. We were successfully able to argue that the deceased had died domiciled in England and wales, thereby enabling the husband to bring his claim and secure a generous award.

Hugh James act for wife in successful Inheritance Act claim

Matthew Evans acted for the successful claimant at first instance and on appeal in 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 £8,000 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 the deceased husband’s estate was left to his son from an earlier marriage.

The court heard that Mrs Iqbal, 61 at the time, was totally dependent on her husband prior to his death.

An application was therefore made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and the court agreed that Mrs Iqbal had not received reasonable financial provision. As such, the court awarded Mrs Iqbal half of the property along with the right to stay in her home for life and the deceased’s residuary estate. The defendant was ordered to pay Mrs Iqbal’s legal costs.

Hugh James secure financial award for disabled child from father’s estate

Roman Kubiak was instructed by the Official Solicitor to act for the daughter of the deceased in her claim for reasonable financial provision under the inheritance Act. The daughter, who was five years old at the time of her claim, suffered from cerebral palsy which meant that she required medication, one to one help at school and emotional and physical support.

We were able to secure a settlement representing twice the daughter’s original entitlement which was then placed in trust to provide for the daughter’s considerable needs.

How to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act
 
For Individuals | Private Wealth | How to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act

Whatever the Inheritance Act issue, our legal advisers have the experience necessary to help you. Roman Kubiak discusses making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Who can make a claim under the Inheritance Act
 
For Individuals | Private Wealth | Who can bring a claim under the Inheritance Act

We explain how to make a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for family and Dependants) Act 1975:

 

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.

For Individuals | Private Wealth | How to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act

Whatever the Inheritance Act issue, our legal advisers have the experience necessary to help you. Roman Kubiak discusses making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

For Individuals | Private Wealth | Who can bring a claim under the Inheritance Act

We explain how to make a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for family and Dependants) Act 1975:

 

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.

Your questions answered

How quickly will my Inheritance Act claim be dealt with?

 

Each case is unique and so how quickly your case might be resolved depends on the particular circumstances. However, with one of the largest Inheritance Act claim teams in the UK with over 50 years’ experience in advising on Inheritance Act claims, and with recognised leaders in the field, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands and that we’ll work with you to resolve your Inheritance Act claim as quickly as possible.

The very purpose of the Inheritance Act is to make financial provision for those who need it and so it’s also possible to apply for interim financial provision from an estate immediately, and before the claim is concluded. We have experience in making urgent applications to ensure you receive the money you need fast.

How much am I entitled to under the Inheritance Act?

 

How much you are entitled to under the Inheritance Act depends on a number of factors, which are helpfully set out in the Inheritance Act and include:

  • your financial resources and needs now and in the foreseeable future;
  • the financial resources and needs of any other person seeking financial provision;
  • the financial resources and needs of any other beneficiary;
  • any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased may have owed towards you, any other person claiming or any beneficiary;
  • the size and nature of the estate;
  • any physical or mental disability with you, any other person claiming or any beneficiary may be suffering; or
  • any other matter which in the circumstances of the case may be relevant.

Whilst no two cases are the same, our significant experience in acting in Inheritance Act claims means that we’re usually able to advise how much you may be entitled to quickly. With one of the largest and most experienced teams of Inheritance Act solicitors in the UK, with a proven track record of getting the best results for our clients and are able to act quickly to help you obtain financial provision.

Can you help me to defend against an Inheritance Act claim?

 

Yes. We act for defendants including beneficiaries and executors/personal representatives facing an Inheritance Act claim.

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.

If you’re an executor, you often have a duty to remain neutral in that role, and to comply with strict procedural requirements. We are on hand to guide you through the legal process and have significant experience in advising both professional and lay executors.

Is my Inheritance Act claim suitable for mediation?

 

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution in which an independent person, known as a mediator, works with the parties to try to negotiate a settlement. Mediations are usually carried out on a ‘without prejudice’ basis so that anything discussed at mediation cannot disclosed to the court.

The usual format involves each “side” having their own, private room. The mediator’s job is to work with the lawyers to try to achieve a positive settlement for all parties.

Although not suitable for every case, mediations do have a high success rate of settlement. Our experience and knowledge of Inheritance Act claims means that we have secured excellent results for our clients at mediation.

What are the Inheritance Act claim time limits?

 

There is generally a time limit of six months from the grant probate or grant of representation within which to make an Inheritance Act claim.

However, the court has power to allow claims outside of that time limit to bring an Inheritance Act claim in certain circumstances. The key is to seek legal advice as soon as possible as any delay can be fatal to a claim. See the question below for further information.

I am out of time to make an Inheritance Act claim. What can I do?

 

Although the usual time limit to make an Inheritance Act claim is six months from the grant of probate or grant of representation, the court has power to allow Inheritance Act claims out of time in certain circumstances.

These circumstances were helpfully set out in the 1981 cases of Re Salmon (Deceased) [1981] Ch 167 and Re Dennis [1981] 2 All ER 140 and include the following:

  • how promptly and in what circumstances the extension has been sought;
  • whether any negotiations had been commenced within the six month time limit;
  • whether the estate had been distributed;
  • whether refusal to extend time would leave the potential claim without any form of redress; and
  • any other factor which may be of relevance.

More recently, in Cowan v Foreman ­[2019] EWCA Civ 1336 the Court of Appeal held that the main factors which would likely influence a decision to allow an Inheritance Act claim out of time would be the prospects of success and whether the estate had already been distributed.

We have significant experience in acting for clients who need to bring Inheritance Act claims out of time and for defending Inheritance Act claims made out of time.

 

The deceased died abroad. Can I still make an Inheritance Act claim?

 

To make a claim under the Inheritance Act the deceased must have died domiciled in “England and Wales”. However, domicile as a legal concept is different to concepts such as nationality, residency or event habitual residence and so just because a person died outside of England and Wales doesn’t necessarily prevent you from making an Inheritance Act claim.

Our unique experience in acting in cross-border estate and inheritance disputes means that we’re able to advise you’re able to make an Inheritance Act claim.

The deceased had assets abroad. Can I still make an Inheritance Act claim?

 

Provided the deceased died domiciled in England and Wales (see above), then you may be able to bring an Inheritance Act claim and enforce it over foreign assets.

Our unique experience in acting in cross-border estate and inheritance disputes means that we are able to advise you if it is worth pursuing an Inheritance Act claim.

 

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