Unfairly Left Out of a Will?
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Make an Inheritance Act Claim
Death isn’t something that everyone wants to think about, or plan for. Research suggests that up to 54% of people die without having a will in place, and this can leave their financial dependants in significant difficulty. Sometimes, even when there is a will in place, it may be out of date, or it may no longer accurately reflect the wishes and priorities of a person at the time of their death.
Have you found yourself unexpectedly left out of a will or otherwise financially disadvantaged? Perhaps you have not received what you were promised, or you are unhappy with your share? Losing someone is hard enough, but to then find yourself unexpectedly financially struggling as a result of that loss can be incredibly distressing. If you dispute the way a will or probate has unfolded, you may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975.
Clifford Johnston & Co have over 35 years of experience providing legal advice in this area. We appreciate the sensitive nature of claims such as these; we are friendly, approachable and will work with you to help you to quickly establish whether or not you have a claim, and how to move forward.
What is the Inheritance Act 1975?
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 was put in place to protect anyone those who feels that reasonable provision has not been made for them in a will, or under intestacy laws.
Can I still claim if there was no will?
If a person died intestate (without a will in place), their estate will fall under the rules of intestacy. If you find yourself in this situation it is still possible to make a claim, provided you fall into the category of people eligible to do so. In order to establish whether you have a claim it is important to take legal advice as swiftly as possible, as there is a strict six month time limit on making a claim.
Who can claim under the Act?
To be able to claim under the Inheritance Act you need to have had a particular relationship with the deceased to qualify.
This is open to you if you are:
- a spouse or civil partner
- a cohabitee
- previously were a spouse or civil partner, if you have not remarried or entered another civil partnership
- a child
- a stepchild or someone who was otherwise being financially maintained by the deceased.
Under these categories, there are certain criteria that must be met for eligibility to claim. You may be unsure as to whether you fall under one of these categories. Talk to us; we have extensive experience in this area and will quickly be able to advise you.
What constitutes grounds for a claim?
If you feel that you haven’t been adequately provided for, then that may constitute grounds to claim. You will need to demonstrate this to the court. The court will consider three main points in making a decision:
- Has reasonable provision been made for you? If your spouse died you are entitled to “such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for a husband or wife to receive, whether or not that provision is required for his or her maintenance.” If you were separated but not divorced at the time of death you could still expect to be financially provided for within reason.
- If you have not been reasonably provided for, should the court intervene and make an award?
- If so, what type of award is appropriate?
Is there a time limit?
There is a strictly enforced six month time limit from the date that probate is granted to make a claim. Six months is not a long time in which to bring a case, so it’s vital you talk to us as soon as possible. If you want to make an Inheritance Act Claim outside of this six month window, you must make an application at the time that you make your main claim to the court under section 4 of the 1975 Act. This states that:
“An application for an order under section 2 of this Act shall not, except with the permission of the court, be made after the end of the period of six months from the date on which representation with respect to the estate of the deceased is first taken out. “
We will advise you and help you to build a strong case where appropriate.
Pre-action protocols are steps that a person must take if they wish to bring a claim to court. They are designed to be easy to understand, to ensure that both sides are aware that a claim is imminent and to hopefully eliminate the need for litigation, saving both sides time, money and emotional stress. Protocol asserts that both sides should:
- understand each other’s position
- try to settle the issues without proceedings, or to consider a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) if possible
- support those proceedings
- make every effort to reduce the time and costs involved in resolving the dispute.
The aim is always to try to settle the case as quickly and amicably as possible, avoiding litigation and significant expense. Refusing to cooperate or to make any effort to resolve the case can lead to having to pay the legal costs of the other party. It is important to be fully aware of the pre-action protocol, and to understand that it can take several months to fully follow. We recommended taking expert advice to ensure that you don’t inadvertently fail to comply with the relevant protocol.
What can I expect if my case goes to court?
If your case goes to court, a number of factors will be considered in deciding your claim:
- the size of the deceased’s estate
- your financial resources and needs
- the resources and needs of any other applicant or beneficiary
- any obligations the deceased had towards any applicant or beneficiary
- any physical or mental disability of any applicant or beneficiary
- any other factors that the court may consider relevant.
Get in touch with the Inheritance Act Claim Solicitors at Clifford Johnston & Co
Our experienced Wills and Probate Dispute Lawyers are experts in their fields.
Call today or complete the enquiry form and we will get back in touch with you quickly. We will always respond promptly, and we will be happy to help.
We build lasting relationships with our clients. Most of our work comes from existing clients, referrals and recommendations.
Our Inheritance Act Claims Solicitors in Manchester and Stockport act regularly for clients from across the North West and Cheshire including Altrincham, Hale, Alderley Edge, Wilmslow and Knutsford.
As recognised experts in Wills, Probate and Trusts we can support your needs wherever you live in England, Wales & Northern Ireland
Need some professional advice?
Do you have any issues that you are worried about? Contact our professional team for a free, no-obligation informal discussion, where we can discuss your particular requirements in greater detail.