Family Provision – Inheritance Act Claims on Estates
In England & Wales we have the concept of complete freedom of testamentary disposition – we can do what we like in our Wills. If you don’t make a Will then the law of intestacy will dictate where your estate goes.
Certain individuals can challenge this if they have not received reasonable financial provision and ask the Court to make discretionary provision. This if governed by the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. A simplified list:
1. Spouse & Civil Partner
2. Former Spouse & Civil Partner
3. Any person living as Spouse or Civil Partner for at least 2 years before death
4. Child, Illegitimate Child and Unborn Child
5. Person treated as a Child through Marriage or Civil Partnership
6. Dependant Person
In considering a discretionary payment, the Court may have regard to (simplified):
1. The financial needs and resources of the applicant and other beneficiaries of the estate
2. The size and nature of the ‘net estate’
3. The age of the applicant and length of time together and contribution made to the welfare of the deceased and family
Claims should normally be made within 6 months of the date when probate or letters of administration are taken out, but this can be extended with permission of the Court. The Court has no power to extend the time where a property has passed to a surviving owner of a property owned as joint tenants.
When considering the ‘net estate’ the Court can have regard to transactions that the deceased entered into to try and put assets beyond the reach of any claims.
Please note that all views, comments or opinions expressed are for information only and do not constitute and should not be interpreted as being comprehensive or as giving legal advice. No one should seek to rely or act upon, or refrain from acting upon, the views, comments or opinions expressed herein without first obtaining specialist, professional or independent advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Curtis Parkinson cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies.