We provide advice and guidance to people involved in disputes between families on death who are either looking to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975 or to defend such a claim either as an executor or as a beneficiary, following the death of someone who was domiciled in England and Wales.
Who can bring a claim under the 1975 Act?
The Act sets out a list of people who may be entitled to bring a claim against an estate. Broadly speaking, the list covers a surviving spouse or a former spouse, someone who had been living with the deceased for at least 2 years before the death, a child of the deceased or someone who was being maintained by the deceased at the time of death.
Why would a claim be made?
A claim is usually made when the terms of the deceased’s will or the laws of intestacy fail to make ‘reasonable financial provision’ for the person seeking to make the claim. If the claim is successful, the estate is then distributed in accordance with e outcome of the claim which effectively over-writes the provisions of the will or the intestacy rules. A successful claim usually results in additional financial provision in the form of ‘maintenance’ being made available to the claimant. However for a surviving spouse, the options are not so restricted.
Who would defend a claim?
The executors are usually the defendants to a claim against an estate but they are required to maintain a neutral stance in the proceedings on most occasions, simply providing information to the court.
The other beneficiaries of the estate may also play an active role in defending the proceedings.
When can a claim be made?
A claim has to be made within 6 months of the date of the grant of probate although in some limited situations, leave to proceed out of time can be given by the court.
We will always be happy to discuss a particular problem and give clear initial advice on the options available, including how to deal with the funding of a claim.