Contesting a Will: Inheritance Act Claims
Making an Inheritance Act Claim
It is distressing enough when a loved one passes away let alone finding out that a will (or absence of a will) has left you without adequate financial provision.
If this is the case, it may be possible to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The act allows certain people to make a claim if reasonable financial provision has not been made for them in a will or under the Intestacy Rules (if there is no will). This enables the court to redistribute assets to ensure you receive adequate financial provision from your loved one’s estate.
Who can challenge a will?
Not everyone who is disappointed by the terms of a loved one’s will or the distribution as a result of the intestacy rules can make a claim. Broadly speaking, it is those who are the immediate family of the deceased. This includes, spouses, civil partners, a former spouse or civil partner who has not remarried, a child (including adult), cohabitees or any person being maintained by the deceased.
What are the grounds for contesting a will?
There is only one ground for an Inheritance Act claim and that is that reasonable financial provision has not been made either by the deceased’s will or under the Intestacy Rules. It is important to remember that just because someone is eligible to bring a claim, doesn’t mean they will automatically get something from the estate.
The test depends on who is making the claim. If a spouse or civil partner is making the claim the test is what would be reasonable for them to receive in all the circumstances of the case not limited to maintenance. For all other claimants, the claim is limited to what is required for their maintenance.
There are several factors which the court will need to consider when deciding what a person may receive, if anything, in these types of claims. These include:
- The financial resources and needs (now and in the future) of the claimant;
- The financial resources and needs (now and in the future) of any other claimants;
- The financial resources and needs (now and in the future) of the beneficiaries of the estate;
- The deceased’s moral obligations towards the claimant or beneficiaries;
- The size and nature of the estate;
- Any physical or mental disability of any claimant or the beneficiaries; and
- Any other circumstances which may be relevant.
There are also some other special factors that the Court will consider depending on the claimant’s relationship to the deceased.
What is the time limit for challenging a will?
These types of claims need to be acted upon quickly as they are time limited. You can only apply within 6 months of the Grant of Representation otherwise you will need permission from the Court.
Can you help me defend an Inheritance Act claim?
If you are a beneficiary of an estate or an executor (or both) and find yourself involved in an Inheritance Act claim, we can help.
It is important to take early legal advice as this is a complicated area of law. If you would like to discuss this further and what your options may be, please get in touch.