Claims under the Inheritance Act 1975

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 provides the right to certain classes of people to challenge a will or intestacy rules where reasonable financial provision has not be made for them.

Who can bring a claim?

We represent a wide range of clients from different classes eligible to bring a claim forward. These include:

  • The spouse/civil partner of the deceased.
  • The former spouse/civil partner of the deceased.
  • The deceased’s children, including adult children.
  • Persons who lived with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death.
  • Persons who before the deceased death, were being maintained by the deceased.
  • Persons treated as the deceased’s child, but not necessarily the adopted or step child.

What is a reasonable financial provision?

In answering this question, the category into which a potential applicant falls is crucial:

  • If you are not a spouse or civil partner, you will have to show that you are entitled to receive such reasonable provision as is necessary for your maintenance.
  • If you are a spouse or civil partner, the reasonable financial provision entitlement does not depend on what is needed for your maintenance, but merely that which is reasonable.

What is the meaning of maintenance?

This is a question of fact and is determined by what would be reasonable for the applicant to live off, at neither a luxurious nor a poverty-stricken level. To determine such a question requires rigorous analysis of the personal circumstances involved. There is also a minefield of complex case law surrounding this question.

How do the courts determine reasonable financial provision?

Section 3 of the Inheritance Act 1975 contains a list of all the factors that a court will have to take into account in order to answer this question.

All factors should be considered and it is good practice to try and give equal weight to each factor when assessing the evidence of your claim.

What are the time limits for making a claim?

The time limit within which to bring a claim under the Act is six months from the grant of probate or letters of administration. This is a very strict time limit and may only be extended in exceptional circumstances. It is crucial you seek advise as early as possible as any delay could be fatal to a claim.

We act for both claimants and defendants in claims under the Act and we have significant expertise in running and managing such claims. This is a complex area of law and you need representation that can defuse what is often an emotional and stressful situation.