The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 ('the Act') provides an opportunity for a small category of individuals to bring a claim against the estate of someone who has died.
Who can bring a claim under the Act?
The following categories of people may bring a claim under the Act:
- Spouses and civil partners
- Children, both minor and adult, including adopted children and step-children
- Former spouses and civil partners, provided they have not remarried
- An individual who continually cohabited with the deceased for at least two years before their death
- Any person who was financially maintained by the deceased
When must a claim be issued?
A claim under the Act must be made within six months of probate being granted. This is known as the limitation period. If the limitation period is missed, it is possible to apply to the court for an extension to the time limit, but it is often denied and so action must be taken at the earliest opportunity.
How do you know if you can bring a claim?
In order to bring a valid claim under the Act, an individual must demonstrate that they have not been provided with ‘reasonable financial provision’. It is possible for someone to receive a provision under the Will, but still pursue a claim under the Act as they do not believe it to be reasonable and sufficient for their needs.
‘Reasonable financial provision’ is defined as being “such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the applicant to receive for his maintenance”.
The only category of claimant that this definition does not apply to is spouses and civil partners.
In the case of spouses and civil partners, the court will consider what the party would have received if the claimant and the deceased were to have divorced, prior to the death. Their provision from the estate is not limited to what would be reasonable for maintenance.
For all other categories, the court will consider what the individual reasonably requires for the cost of their daily lives. Any provision made is to ensure maintenance and is not intended to enhance the claimant’s lifestyle beyond its means at the time that the claim is made.
Considerations and relevant factors
The following factors will be relevant when considering the prospects of a successful claim under the Act:
- Value of the estate
- What was the nature of the relationship?
- Is the claimant currently a beneficiary under the terms of the Will?
- Financial position of the claimant including their income, savings, debts, living circumstances, employment etc.
- Financial position of the other beneficiaries
- Does the claimant have any disabilities or conditions that affect their earning capacity and living arrangements?
- Did the deceased have any obligation to the claimant?
The above are some of the main considerations, however there are endless circumstances that will impact a claim under the Act. It is the duty of the claimant to demonstrate to the court that they have not been provided reasonable financial provision under the terms of the Will or under the rules of intestacy.
If you feel that you fall in to one of the defined categories of individual who can bring a claim under the Act, and feel that you have been left without reasonable financial provision under the terms of the Will, please do get in touch. We will be happy to discuss your matter with you and consider whether it would be appropriate for you to pursue a claim.
Alternatively, if you are an executor and/or beneficiary of an estate, and someone is looking to bring a claim that you wish to defend, please do not hesitate to get in touch, as we also specialise in defending such claim, as well as pursuing them. Please call our specialist team on 0161 696 6178.