If you have been excluded from a Will or a deceased person’s lack of a Will has left you financially struggling, you may be entitled to bring a claim in accordance with the Inheritance Act 1975.
Here at Van Eaton Solicitors, we have significant experience in handling and dealing with inheritance disputes. We will work to ensure that you receive financial provisions as promptly as possible when it comes to Inheritance Tax claims.
Do you believe you should be entitled to a loved one’s estate, but aren’t sure where to start? Read our article below to help you decide on the correct course of action.
What is the Inheritance Act 1975?
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is a legal act of Parliament that grants financial provision from the estate of a deceased person to certain people who make a claim.
Individuals eligible to make a claim include a surviving spouse or civil partner, and they are entitled to reasonable financial provision if it has not been made for them on the intestacy of the deceased person, or if they did not have a Will. In most instances, this means that a spouse or civil partner would be entitled to the same way of life which they loved before their spouse’s/partner’s death.
As long as it can be provided by the estate, anyone else claiming under the Inheritance Act is entitled to “reasonable financial provision” as is necessary for their maintenance.
Who can make a claim?
You do not have to be the spouse or civil partner of the deceased to make a claim under the Inheritance Act. You can make a claim if you are:
- The former spouse or civil partner of the deceased. This only applies if you have not since remarried another person or entered a civil partnership
- The deceased’s child(ren)
- Any person who, at the time of death, was related through marriage or civil partnership and was considered a child by the deceased (most commonly known as a stepchild).
- A person who was sharing the same household as the deceased as their common law or civil partner for a period of two years which ended immediately on the deceased’s death (most commonly referred to as a cohabitee);
- Any person who, before the death of the deceased, was being cared for either completely or partly by the deceased. For example, this could mean someone who was financially dependent on the deceased
If you believe that you have a right to claim under the Inheritance Act, it is the responsibility of you and your solicitor to prove that the provision (or lack of) left to you is not sufficient enough to meet your financial needs. In cases such as these, the courts would consider whether the Will or intestacy provisions make reasonable financial provision for the applicant.
If this is not the case, the court should consider whether to act and award such provisions from the deceased’s estate and decided upon the appropriate type of provisions depending on the case.
When deciding on the merits of the claim, the court will take into account factors such as:
- The size and nature of the estate
- Any financial resources or needs which the applicant has or may have in the future
- Any financial resources or needs which any other Inheritance Act applicant has or may have in the future
- Any financial resources or needs which any beneficiary of the deceased’s estate has or may have in the future
- Any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards you, any applicant or any beneficiary of their estate
- Whether you, another applicant or another beneficiary of the estate has any physical or mental disabilities
- Any other matters, such as the conduct of the applicant or any other applicant, which the court may consider relevant under the circumstances of the case
Other Factors To Consider
When claiming under the Inheritance Act, there is a lot more to consider than just your reasoning and the courts. There are restrictions and deadlines in place, so it is crucial that you get your claim and evidence together as soon as possible. Van Eaton solicitors aim to resolve cases quickly and will help you with your claim every step of the way.
If you are planning to make a claim, court proceedings must commence within six months from the date that the Grant of Probate was issued. If you miss this deadline, you can still make a claim, but you must ask the court for permission.
Also, whilst you (the applicant) can live anywhere in the world, the deceased whose estate you’re claiming against must have resided in England or Wales at the time of their death. Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have separate rules when it comes to claiming against an estate.
If you are an adult child of the deceased, you can still make a claim against the estate, but they can be more difficult to bring than those for children under the age of 18. Also, it should be noted that not all cases go to court. Here at Van Eaton, we aim to clear up matters using dispute resolution, such as mediation.
We hope that our article has made the process of claiming under the Inheritance Act a little clearer to understand, and you know exactly what resources you need to make your claim successful. If you are still unsure, then we are happy to help.
Van Eaton are experienced inheritance dispute solicitors in London and pride themselves on the efficiency and success of the cases they undertake. If you wish to make a claim under the Inheritance Act and would like reliable legal advice, get in touch with us today by calling 0208 769 6739 or 07736790321. Alternatively, you can inquire here.
Van Eaton, Streatham, London