Inheritance Act Claims



What is an Inheritance Act Claim?

The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (‘the Inheritance Act’) permits certain categories of claimant to bring a claim against an estate of a deceased person where ‘reasonable financial provision’ has not been made for them. This is whether under the terms of the will or on the intestacy of the deceased.

Who can bring a claim?

The following are categories of individuals who can bring a claim under the Inheritance Act:

  1. spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  2. former spouse or civil partner of the deceased (but only if that person has not remarried or entered into another civil partnership;
  3. a child of the deceased;
  4. any person who in relation to a marriage or civil partnership in which the deceased was at the time a party, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family;
  5. a person who was living in the same household as the deceased, as ‘husband or wife’ or as a civil partner of the deceased for a period of two years ending immediately on the deceased’s death;
  6. any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained either wholly or partly by the deceased.

What is the time limit for bringing a claim?

The claim must be issued by the Court within 6 months of the Grant of Probate (of letters of administration, in the case of intestacy). There is therefore a very short period in which to take advice and start a claim.

If the time limit has passed then it is possible to seek the Court’s permission to bring the claim out of time.

Does it matter where the Deceased lived?

The Inheritance Act only applies to the Estate of individuals who were domiciled in England & Wales at the date of death. It does not apply to any other parts of the UK. The country of residence of the Claimant is not relevant.

 What is meant by ‘reasonable financial provision’?

For all Claimants, 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’.

The same definition does not apply to spouses and civil partners as for those categories of Claimant, financial provision is not limited to what is required for their maintenance.

What factors will the Court consider when deciding on the claim?

The Court will consider a number of factors to decide if reasonable financial provision has been made and if not, what is the appropriate order. These include:

  • the financial needs and resources of the applicant, both now and in the foreseeable future;
  • the financial needs and resources of any other applicant, both now and in the foreseeable future; 
  • the financial needs and resources of any beneficiary of the estate, both now and in the foreseeable future;
  • any obligations and responsibilities that the deceased had towards any applicant or any beneficiary of the estate;
  • the size and nature of the estate;
  • any physical or mental disability of any applicant or beneficiary;
  • any other conduct.

Will I have to go to court?

Inheritance Act claims are subject to short time limits for the bringing of a claim. It is for this reason that in most cases a claim is issued to protect the claim from being time barred. Very few Inheritance Act claims get to trial, with most being settled by means of negotiation or mediation.

Next Steps

If you think that you may have an Inheritance Act claim, take advice from an ACTAPS (Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialist) as early as possible.