The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975, or ‘Inheritance Act’ or ‘1975 Act’ as it is frequently known, allows certain categories of applicant to bring a claim against an estate of a deceased person where ‘reasonable financial provision’ has not been made for them under the terms of the will or on the intestacy of that deceased person.
The following categories of person can make a claim:
The deceased must have been domiciled in England and Wales at the date of death. This does not include Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.
The applicant can live anywhere in the world.
Yes. Court proceedings must be issued within six months of the date of the Grant of Probate. It is important therefore to act quickly and take legal advice quickly if you think you may have a claim.
It may still be possible to bring a claim but you will have to ask for the court’s permission to apply out of time.
For all applicants except for spouses and civil partners, 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’.
For spouses and civil partners financial provision is not limited to what is required for maintenance.
The court will consider a number of factors in order to decide whether reasonable financial provision has been made under a will or intestacy and, if not, what order it should make for financial provision from an estate. These factors are known as the ‘section 3 factors’ and include the following:
The court will also consider other factors depending on the category into which the applicant falls. For example, for a claim by a spouse or civil partner the court will consider the age of the applicant, the duration of the marriage / civil partnership and the contribution made by the applicant to the welfare of the family.
The court will also consider the ‘deemed divorce’ test, ie what the applicant would have received had the marriage ended on divorce rather than on the death of one of the parties.
Yes. Claims are not limited to minor children. Adult children can make a claim against a parent’s estate, but such claims are likely to be more difficult to bring than those for minor children.
Not necessarily. Subject to the time limit above for issuing proceedings to bring a claim, we aim to resolve matters as much as possible by alternative methods of dispute resolution such as negotiation or mediation.
1975 Act claims are particularly well suited to mediation.
You should seek legal advice as soon as possible, particularly in light of the deadline detailed above.