The basis for the claim, though, cannot be just disappointment or because of any sense of entitlement (though the courts will consider morality in some cases) but must be due to the claimant not having received sufficient financial provision from the estate to meet their needs.
Who could claim under the Inheritance Act 1975?
Those who may be able to claim are:
- A spouse or civil partner.
- A child (including adult children and adopted children as well sometimes, stepchildren).
- A former spouse or civil partner (if they have not remarried).
- A cohabitee (if they lived with the deceased for at least 2 years before they passed away).
- Any person who was financially maintained by the deceased.
What does the court decide?
The court has to have regard to several factors when deciding on the claim. These include the size of the estate, the financial resources and needs that the claimant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. This is the same for other potential claimants and the other beneficiaries and any obligations or responsibilities which the deceased had towards the claimant and other beneficiaries. are also relevant. This is in addition to any physical or mental disability of the claimant and other beneficiaries and finally, any other relevant matter including the conduct of any of the parties.
The time limit for a claim is exactly 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate. Potential claimants need to act fast. An extension of that time may be possible in some circumstances but is not guaranteed. So do not leave it too late. Seek early advice from a solicitor.
Funding a claim
If you think you may be eligible for a claim, at Marsden Rawsthorn we can consider various options for funding your case with you including (depending on your circumstances and the merits of your claim):
- Private payment
- Legal expenses insurance
- No win no fee
- Payment at the end of your case
Defending a claim
We also act on behalf of beneficiaries who need to defend these kinds of claims made by disappointed relatives (often siblings who their deceased parent chose to remove from their Will). There are various funding options available in this circumstance, too.
You may be both an executor and beneficiary of the estate, and you receive notification of a claim. When you receive an indication of a claim that threatens the estate, and perhaps your own inheritance, you need to proceed carefully and should obtain specialist advice.
Executors (or personal representatives) have certain obligations and must remain neutral in litigation. Failing to do so may result in your own personal liability for costs.
Beneficiaries are also placed at risk of having to pay the legal costs of the claimant, in the event that they defend the claim, and the claimant is successful in achieving an award from the court.
The time limit for a claim is a strict 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate. Potential claimants need to act fast. In some circumstances, the claimant will ask to enter into an agreement to extend the time limit. Beneficiaries and executors need to consider this suggestion carefully as a failure to agree could result in criticism from the court, however, each case is different.
The basis for a claim cannot be just disappointment or because of any sense of entitlement but the court will consider morality in some cases.
The claim must be due to the claimant not having received sufficient financial provisions from the estate to meet their needs. Each case depends upon its own merits, which is a further reason why seeking legal advice is crucial and should be done without delay.
You must act promptly if you receive notification of such a claim. This avoids court proceedings being issued against the estate without the claim being considered or without you fully advised.