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Inheritance Act Claims

The 1975 Act allows certain categories of claimant to make a claim for a reasonable financial provision from an estate.  The following people are entitled to make a claim under the UK Act:

  • A spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  • A divorced spouse or a separated civil partner of the deceased, provided that they have not re-married or entered into a new civil partnership;
  • A person who lived with the deceased for a minimum of two years prior to their death;
  • A child of the deceased (including children over the age of 18);
  • Anyone who was treated as their child by the deceased person, including adopted children, fostered children, step children and so on;
  • Anyone being maintained by the deceased person prior to their death

Our Dispute Resolution team have extensive experience in both pursuing and defending 1975 Act claims and regularly act for both Claimants, beneficiaries and Executors in the High Court.  We will aim to identify your goals and the most effective ways of achieving your aims at the outset of your case.   We will try to resolve your case without the need for court proceedings wherever possible and we are skilled in all forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (including mediation).

Frequently Asked Questions

Are these types of dispute expensive?

As with any legal dispute, costs are a very important consideration and therefore these must be carefully discussed at the outset of a claim. Court proceedings can be very expensive but the vast majority of disputes reach a settlement without the need for a final court hearing.  We offer a number of different funding options to clients and will always seek to offer an appropriate method of funding a claim, together with regular costs updates as the claim progresses.

How long do claims take?

It is difficult to give an accurate timescale as each dispute is different and the timescale largely depends on whether an early resolution can be achieved.  If a settlement can be negotiated informally without legal proceedings being necessary then a typical dispute may be resolved in 3-6 months.

Is there a time limit for bringing an Inheritance Act claim?

Yes. There is a strict time limit of 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate or Representation in which court proceedings must be commenced.  It is therefore very important that legal advice should be obtained as quickly as possible.

What is an Inheritance Act claim?

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is a piece of legislation that allows certain categories of individuals to bring a claim against the deceased where ‘reasonable financial provision’ has not been made under the terms of the will or on the intestacy of the deceased. 

Who can make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975?

The following categories of persons are eligible to make a claim under the act: -

  • A current spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  • A former spouse or civil partner of the deceased who has not remarried and who has not received a final settlement following the breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership;
  • Any person who, during the whole 2 year period immediately before the date of death, was living in the same household of the deceased in the manner of a spouse or civil partner;
  • Any child of the deceased including illegitimate, legitimated and adopted children of any age;
  • Any person treated by the deceased as a child of the marriage or civil partnership;
  • Any person not included above who was maintained wholly or partly by the deceased person prior to their death
Would I have to attend a court hearing if I pursue a claim?

Not necessarily.  Our objective in any dispute is to seek to a successful resolution as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.  This can include seeking to negotiate informally, attending a mediation and other methods of alternative dispute resolution.  The vast majority of disputes do not reach a final court hearing.

Success Stories

Deceased’s Will did not make reasonable financial provision

We represented a client in bringing a claim against the estate of her ex-husband where the deceased’s Will did not make reasonable financial provision.  The parties had been separated for over 20 years, however, our client had continued to live in a property owned solely by the Deceased.  We were successful in establishing a claim under the 1975 Act, for a 50% share in the property as well as a life interest in the property.

Died without leaving a Will

We acted on behalf of a client in relation to a claim against the estate of her long-term partner, who had died without leaving a Will.  The intestacy rules meant that the partner’s estate would pass to his sons, however, we were successful in establishing a claim under the 1975 Act, which resulted in a substantial financial provision being made in our client’s favour.

Drafting error on the part of the Deceased’s solicitors

We acted on behalf of beneficiaries in defending a claim brought against their father’s estate, by his ex-wife.  The claim was complicated by a drafting error on the part of the Deceased’s solicitors, which resulted in the interpretation of the Will being ambiguous.  We were successful in resolving the claim at a multi-party mediation.

No financial settlement had been agreed in the divorce proceedings

We acted on behalf of beneficiaries in defending a claim against the estate of their late mother, brought by the mother’s former husband.  Divorce proceedings had taken place, however, no financial settlement had been agreed in the divorce proceedings prior to the deceased’s death.  We were successful in limiting the value of the claim to an extremely modest sum, preserving the estate for the children.

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Rob  Stubbs
Rob Stubbs
Head of Dispute Resolution
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