The Inheritance Act allows certain groups of people to make a
claim against an estate if they can show that the deceased did not
make 'reasonable provision' for them in the will.
People eligible to make a claim
Six groups of people may make a claim under the Inheritance
spouses and civil partners;
children (including adult
someone who lived with the deceased
for two years immediately prior to death;
someone 'treated by the deceased
as a child of the marriage';
someone being 'maintained by the
ex-spouses and ex-civil partners,
under certain circumstances.
Claims brought by these types of individuals may give rise to
more complicated factual issues.
A claim under the Inheritance Act should be issued within six
months after the 'grant of representation', which is the
formal document issued by the Probate Registry that allows the
executor to pay the deceased's debts and distribute the
A Court will ask two questions in looking at a claim under the
Inheritance Act. Does the will (or the 'laws of intestacy'
if there is no will) make 'reasonable financial provision'
for the person bringing the claim? If not, what provision should be
In weighing these questions, the Court will look at various
factors including the financial needs and resources of the person
bringing the claim, the needs and resources of the beneficiaries
under the will, the needs and resources of anyone else making a
claim, the size of the estate, any beneficiaries' disabilities,
and any other matter the Court thinks is relevant. This is a
fact-specific approach: each case is different and requires expert
Claims under the Inheritance Act
These claims can involve a great deal of emotion and the Court
will do a thorough analysis of all the parties' financial needs
and resources. As a result, whether you are bringing or defending a
claim under the Inheritance Act, ensuring your case is as strong as
possible will require a good deal of homework.
Finally, while most claims settle out of Court, in recent years
a number of these claims have ended up in Court. For example, Ilott
v Mitson is a claim involving an estranged daughter who was
disinherited by her mother in favour of three charities; the case
has been going through the courts since 2007, so you do need to be
prepared, if necessary, to take a claim to trial.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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