Inheriting Less Than You Bargained For

23rd September 2014


by Lucinda Musgrove-Farley

It may be only after someone has passed away that you discover that their Will does not leave a reasonable financial provision for you, possibly leaving you facing real financial difficulty. All is not lost – there are provisions under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 which may allow you to make a claim against the deceased’s estate. Fraser Dawbarns LLP has a well established team to help you with your claim.

Am I able to make a claim?

This will depend on your relationship to the deceased person. The Act includes a list of people who are able to make a claim against the estate. You are able to make a claim if you are a spouse or civil partner of the deceased (including a former spouse), a child (of any age) of the deceased, or a person who was treated by the deceased as a ‘child of the family’, or someone who was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death. If you are in doubt about whether you have a claim, Fraser Dawbarns LLP can advise you about this.

How long do I have to make a claim?

Time begins to run out once the Grant of Probate has been issued – you have 6 months to start any claim from that date. A Court does have the power to allow this 6 month period to be extended, but this will only usually happen in exceptional circumstances – so you can’t rely on this. Our best advice is therefore to issue any claim within 6 months of the Grant of Probate.

What evidence will I need to provide?

You need to be able to show that the Will and/or the law does not make a ‘reasonable financial provision’ for you. The tests for surviving spouses or partners and other claimants are different.

If this goes to Court, what factors will they take into account?

The Court will look at certain guidelines. The common guidelines cover aspects such as the size and nature of the estate – no estate is too big or too small, and the needs (including disabilities) of all the people affected, including other beneficiaries of the estate. The Court will take into account these elements at the time of the claim and looking forward into the foreseeable future. The Court will also consider any moral obligations of the deceased towards any person involved, and also anything else the Court feels is relevant. If you are making a claim for financial provision from an estate, the Court may also take your conduct and resources or obligations into account .

If, after the Court has assessed the situation, it agrees that the Will or intestacy did not provide a reasonable financial provision for you, the Court can make an order which will state how much you are entitled to receive from the estate, where the money for the financial provision will come from, and how it will be paid to you.

The team at Fraser Dawbarns LLP is dealing with an increasing number of claims of this type every year and acts for both claimants and other affected parties, such as executors, or other beneficiaries.

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*We are recommended for the following practice areas: Corporate and Commercial, Debt Recovery, Employment, Personal Injury: Claimant, Agriculture and Estates, Contentious Trusts and Probate, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate & Commercial Property.

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