An Inheritance Act claim is pursued under a piece of legislation called the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (the ‘1975 Act’) and is a method of redistributing an estate.
Provided you and the estate meet certain criteria of which we can advise normally FREE OF CHARGE you can show that it was unreasonable for the deceased’s Will (or intestate estate) not to make provision for you (or that it was unreasonable for you to receive the amount that you did i.e. you deserved more) then the Court has the power to entirely re-distribute the deceased’s estate to make provision for you.
Does that mean that I could get the whole estate?
Yes, in theory it does. The Court is obliged to consider a number of factors under section 3 of the 1975 Act in determining what you might receive by way of reasonable provision.
We apply these factors when considering your case and in achieving a negotiated settlement.
What are the Section 3 Factors?
- Section 3(1)(a) - Your Financial Needs and Resources- i.e. whether you have a need for provision from the estate. This is not only limited to what you currently need to cover any deficit between your outgoings and income but also factors in any future financial needs you may have, particularly if you have young dependant children, a disabled child or you are disabled yourself.
- Section 3(1)(b) - The Financial Needs and Resources of Another Claimant- the Court will weigh your needs against those of any other person who seeks to bring an Inheritance Act claim against the estate.
- Section 3(1)(c) - The Financial Needs and Resources of the Defendants (i.e. the Beneficiaries)- Defendants can run a needs based defence however, the more well of the defendants are, the less successful they will be.
- Section 3(1)(d) - Any obligation or responsibility that the Deceased owed to any party and any relevant conduct (of the Deceased or the parties)- for example, any financial dependency you had upon the deceased providing for you and any natural relationship which gives rise to an obligation/responsibility for the deceased to provide for you
- Section 3(1)(e) - The size and nature of the estate - this is where the Court considers if the estate is large enough to make provision and whether the estate is comprised of assets which are capable of making an award.
- Section 3(1)(f) - Any Physical or Mental Disabilities of the Parties- a Court will consider any disabilities (whether physical or mental) of any of the parties which impact their ability to improve their financial position in the future.
- Section 3 (1) (g) - Any relevant conduct This may include any promises made by the Deceased to you or the conduct of any party prior to or throughout proceedings.
A Court will weigh up each factor and determine whether reasonable provision should have been made for you and if so, how much provision should be awarded to you out of the estate.An award could take the form of a lump sum, or a regular payment – a Court has wide discretion regarding awards.
We can advise in respect of what award a Court might award you and instead of pursuing the matter via a Court, try and achieve a negotiated settlement for you.
Who Can Make a Claim Under the Act?
There are 6 categories of claimant under the Inheritance Act, as follows:
- A Spouse / Civil Partner -– spouses are not limited to what is required for their maintenance, unlike all other categories of claimant, and the Court may award you what it considers reasonable in all the circumstances.
- A Former Spouse - who has not remarried.
- A Co-Habiting Partner.
- A Child - whether adult or minor.
- A Child of the Family - this includes anyone who was treated as a child of the family for example, step-children or grandchildren.
- A Financial Dependant - this is someone who was being financially maintained by the deceased.
We Can Help
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who feel that they have been left out of a Will. Our specialist Team of Inheritance Dispute Solicitors have experience dealing with all aspects of inheritance disputes and are here to give you the legal advice you deserve.
If you are unsure of which category you qualify under or if you are in any doubt regarding any aspect of an inheritance claim call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback at your convenience.