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Generally, we are all free to dispose of our assets as we want to. However, the law does provide protection for people who have been financially dependent on the now deceased in the form of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
The Inheritance Act is in place to help spouses, children, civil partners, cohabitees and other surviving dependants who have been left to cope without sufficient financial support to get by. If a will or intestacy fails to make reasonable financial provision, then the Inheritance Act will come into play.
To bring a claim, the court must be satisfied that you are entitled to make the claim. The Inheritance Act states that the following must apply:
The court will consider whether reasonable financial provision has already been made for you, the extent of which will be decided by the court and will vary according to your status.
Under the Inheritance Act, the court will consider the applicant's needs and resources against what would be reasonable for their maintenance. The court will look at the following matters as set out in section 3(1) of the 1975 Act:
Claims by spouses and civil partners differ as the court will look beyond what is necessary purely for maintenance and will take several other factors into consideration such as:
Section 2 of the Act enables the court to make any one or more of the following orders:
At Parfitt Cresswell, we can advise both individual claimants wishing to make a claim for adequate financial provision and beneficiaries who want to defend their interests under a disputed will, and firmly believe that Inheritance Act disputes should be mediated outside of a court environment, wherever possible.
If you are considering making a claim under the Inheritance Act, it is essential that you seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity, as Inheritance Act claims must be brought within 6 months of the Grant of Representation to the estate. If you have already left it too long, we may still be able to help you, but you will need to act quickly. If you are unsure of your position, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our family law specialists.
For information of users: This material is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore, no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.