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Making an Inheritance Act claim

Mar 11, 2019

When a person makes a Will, they can usually expect its terms to be carried through after their death.

We say ‘usually’ because there are situations in which people who had expected to benefit in particular ways from a Will can bring a legal challenge and, if successful, alter the inheritance that they and others are to receive.

That avenue is not open to everyone. An Inheritance Act claim – which is  a claim for financial provision from a deceased person’s estate - may only be brought by:

-         the deceased’s spouse or civil partner

-         the deceased’s former spouse or civil partner, provided that person did not remarry or enter into a new civil partnership

-         a child of the deceased

-         a person who the deceased treated as a child of the family (step-child, for example)

-         a person who, immediately before the deceased died, was being maintained by him or her

-         a person who, for two years immediately before the deceased died, was living with him or her as husband or wife, or civil partner (but not actually in a marriage or a civil partnership).

The time limit for bringing a claim is strict: six months from the grant of probate. While the court has discretion to extend the timeframe in certain situations, that possibility should never be relied on; a court would look very carefully at the circumstances that led to the deadline being missed, and at the wider situation, and decide whether or not to allow you more time.

Given the risks of a judge deciding not to allow more time, anyone wanting to challenge a provision in a Will should act quickly. It is important to get advice from a specialist Wills and probate solicitor as soon as possible to make sure not just that you have the legal right to make a claim (and that any claim would be in time) but to shape and assess the extent of that claim. For example, you might be able to argue that as a spouse, it would be reasonable for you to receive more than you have been left. Or, as a child or dependent, you need more in order to get by. You may even be in a situation in which no Will has been made and you are looking to put some sort of financial arrangement in place for you and your family. 

Whatever the situation, the issues involved in Inheritance Act claims can be complex and they can be sensitive. It’s our job, as specialists in these types of cases, to help you understand the process and your options and to help you get the best possible outcome.

If you require any information or assistance on the matters raised in this article please contact our Litigation team by phoning 01264 353411, emailing; litigation@bsandi.co.uk or by filling in our no obligation, online enquiry form.


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