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Dispute Resolution for Individuals

Inheritance Act Claims

Chun Wong
Chun Wong
Partner
Claire Kitchen
Claire Kitchen
Partner
Michael Kilbane
Michael Kilbane
Partner
Ruhul Ameen
Ruhul Ameen
Partner
Brenel Menezes
Brenel Menezes
Senior Associate
Stuart Miles
Stuart Miles
Associate
Amirah Choudhury
Amirah Choudhury
Trainee
Alexandra Pekanac
Alexandra Pecanac
Solicitor

Contentious probate is a dispute which arises following the death of a person who has left assets to be inherited by beneficiaries to their estate.

Assets may have been left to be distributed in accordance with a Will, or the person who has died may not have left a Will at all, in which case the rules of ‘intestacy’ will apply.

When someone close to you passes away, you will want to see their assets distributed fairly. Losing a relative or friend can be hard to take and this can be all the more difficult when conflict arises over how their estate should be shared out.

We understand the sensitivities involved when disagreements surface over probate and inheritance claims.

Our solicitors are experts in this area of law and are accredited by the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists.

What is The Inheritance Act 1975?

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 is intended to allow courts to make reasonable financial provision for special classes of people who have not been provided for at all or insufficiently whether there is a Will or not.

Probate and inheritance disputes can be highly complex. We can help you challenge the terms of a will if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly.

You may find a claim has been brought against you in relation to a probate and inheritance dispute. Whatever your circumstances, we’ll defend your rights so you receive everything you’re entitled to.

"Chun has dealt with my difficult circumstances with unfailing professionalism, honesty, integrity and compassion. It was a very difficult time of life for me, both emotionally and financially, and Chun has been fantastic...always responsive, always well informed and always reliable."

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When can you make a claim under The Inheritance Act 1975?

You can make a claim if:

  • you have been left out of a Will
  • you haven’t been provided sufficiently in a Will
  • there is no Will and under the rules of intestacy you are not provided for at all or adequately
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Who can claim under The Inheritance Act 1975?

Provided the deceased was domiciled in England and Wales, the Inheritance Act 1975 allows the following class of people to make a potential claim:

  • the spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • claimants who cohabited continuously for at least 2 years immediately prior to the deceased’s death
  • the deceased’s child/children (this can include an adopted, fostered and step-child) or
  • claimants treated as the deceased’s child (including adult children)
  • claimants being “maintained” by the deceased

 

There are a number of factors that a court will take into consideration in balancing the potential needs of the claimant against the needs of the entitled beneficiaries under the Will or intestacy rules.

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The procedure for making a claim under The Inheritance Act 1975

In the first instance you should send a pre-action letter to the other side to set out why you think you have a claim and what you are seeking from the Estate.

If you’re not able to agree any form of settlement then you may need to consider issuing proceedings, which can be done whether a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration has been issued or not. If a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration has been issued, then you will need to issue a claim within 6 months.

"The service was excellent, their practical approach and common sense was always spot on. I was always presented with my options and a suggestion which really gave me the insight and at the same time the direction I needed to make a decision. Their emails were detailed and covered all perspectives."

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How much does it cost to make an Inheritance Act claim?

This is hard to predict as it will depend on the response of the other side and how far long the process you need to go.  We charge on an hourly basis at competitive rates and can discuss funding options with you.

Get in touch with our specialist team today on
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The London Legal Podcast

Inheritance Act Claims

In this episode of our podcast series, Chun Wong, Head of our Dispute Resolution team speaks with her colleague, Ruhul Ameen, a Partner in the team about making a claim under the Inheritance Act.

Chun and Ruhul discuss how you may be able to claim financial provision from an estate if you’ve been left out of a will or are struggling financially and look at the court’s approach, potential pitfalls and the time limits involved.

Inheritance Act Claims For Spouses

Listen to this episode of The London Legal Podcast, featuring Chun Wong, Head of our Dispute Resolution team and Sarah Harding, Partner in our specialist Family Law team. Chun and Sarah discuss Inheritance Act claims for spouses and the interplay with divorce proceedings.

They discuss how spouses may make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 if no reasonable financial provision has been made by the deceased, as well as the pitfalls of not formalising a divorce in a timely and proper manner.

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Defending an Inheritance Act claim

Our leading solicitors act for administrators, executors and beneficiaries who find themselves having to defend an Inheritance Act Claim.

It must be stressed that the test is for reasonable financial provision and will depend on many factors and the individual circumstances of the case.

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Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen?

Tailored service

Our lawyers will always take the time to understand your individual circumstances and requirements. You can rely on us to get the result you deserve.

Highly experienced

Our team includes 4 experienced Partners, with over 40 years’ combined years of experience in this area of law.  

We work closely our specialist Wills & Probate team

Hodge Jones & Allen also has a dedicated Wills & Probate team who specialise in drafting and preparing Wills. Their specialist experience, combined with our litigation expertise, ensures that you receive advice tailored to your individual needs.

"They massively helped me through a very difficult time. They were professional and competent, always kept me updated and were always available if I had any queries or needed reassurance. Would recommend to any friend or family needing legal advice."

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Inheritance Act Claim for disputed partner

The matter was unique given the financial and residential insecurity of our elderly client. The client has an Inheritance Act claim for a sum considerably greater than that provided for her in the will. A lot of the case is based on highly personally sensitive evidence that she was in fact the partner and, for the last 10 years of his life, acted as the wife of the deceased.

The client faced the threat of immediate eviction from her home and she instructed us to bring an Inheritance Act claim in the High Court for around £500,000, on which she was wholly reliant for her future security. Her claim, which included foregoing employment and the long-term investment of significant capital of her own in a home of her own, is strongly disputed by the wealthy sole beneficiary and son of the deceased. We were able to secure settlement for the client at mediation which enabled a lump sum to be provided to her to secure alternative accommodation.

Inheritance Act claim for unmarried partner

Our client’s long-term partner of over twenty years died. Our client lived with his partner in her property for over seventeen years at the time of her death and was served with a notice to quit.

 

Given the long-term and particular nature of our client’s relationship with his partner, his claim was for financial provision on an enhanced maintenance standard, being akin to the provision awarded to former spouses or civil partners. Our client contributed to the mortgage and bills for the property. Our client was subsequently wholly maintained by his partner, who paid for everything, including holidays etc.

Our client had substantial mental and physical health issues. Proceedings were issued on behalf of our client.  Trial was avoided when settlement was secured for the client following a mediation.  The settlement sum will allow our client to secure alternative accommodation of the same standard and in the same neighbourhood, where he has got an access to a network of support.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the time limit on an Inheritance Act claim?

Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“Act”) must be issued within 6 months of the date of the grant of probate or letters of administration (grant of representation).

Can you make an Inheritance Act claim after separation?

A former spouse or civil partner can make a claim even after separation (before the issue of a decree absolute) and if they have not re-married or entered a new civil partnership.

Can grandchildren make an Inheritance Act claim?

Yes, if they were maintained (wholly or partly) by the deceased then grandchildren may have a claim under the Inheritance Act.

Can an illegitimate child make an Inheritance Act claim?

Yes potentially depending on the facts of the case.

What’s the process for settling an Inheritance Act claim?

Settlement can be achieved through formal Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as mediation or just in negotiations (verbal or written). Once you have achieved settlement, the terms should be recorded in a binding written agreement or court order.

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