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02nd July 2019

What is an Inheritance Act claim?

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The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”), enables financial provision to be made 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 (under a Will or intestacy). The 1975 Act enables the court to vary the distribution of the Deceased’s estate for certain family members and dependants, where reasonable financial provision has not been made.

Who can make an Inheritance Act claim?

In order to bring a claim under the 1975 Act, the Deceased must firstly have been domiciled (which can be different to residence) in either England or Wales at the time of their death. 1975 Act claims cannot be made against the estates of individuals who died domiciled in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.

The next question is whether you fall within one of the classes of applicant set out in the 1975 Act entitled to bring a claim? These are listed in S.1 of the 1975 Act and include spouses/civil partners (and former spouses/civil partners who have not remarried), a cohabiting partner of 2 years or more, a child (or person treated as a child), or anybody maintained financially by the Deceased.

If you do qualify as an applicant, the next question is whether the Will fails to make reasonable financial provision for you, having regard to a number of factors provided within the 1975 Act.

Do Inheritance Act claims have a time limit?

A claim under the 1975 Act has to be issued at court within 6 months of the date of the Grant of Probate (or Grant of Letters of Administration) being issued. Therefore it is vital, if you believe you have a claim, that it is made as soon as possible. Only in exceptional circumstances with the permission of the Court, can claims be brought outside of the 6 month time limit.

Court action

It is the preference of the Courts for such claims to be settled amicably between the parties, and such claims are often well-suited to alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation. Court is very much a last resort, however, given the short time limit, issuing court proceedings to protect your position may be necessary in the first instance, and proceedings can be stayed to allow a period for negotiations.

Should you require any further advice or assistance in making an Inheritance Act claim, please call Hewitsons today on 0330 311 0885, to speak to one of our experienced solicitors. We offer a free initial consultation, to all new clients, lasting up to 30 minutes. Alternatively, please complete our online form and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss your enquiry.