Inheritance Act Claims

Claims by disappointed family members against a deceased person’s estate have become a lot more common over recent years. That trend shows no sign of changing.  

This is as a result of a combination of factors: family members living further apart which means that the bonds of natural love and affection have become weaker; second and further marriages which mean that the deceased has more than one family to think of; step-children fighting with the deceased’s own children; and the increasing value of houses which can be well worth the effort of fighting over.

Claims can be made by people who are not related to the deceased and were not married to them, but who were maintained in some way and have not been provided for in the way they might have expected. Inheritance Act claims have also received a good deal of publicity in recent months, which means that potential claimants are more aware than ever of what their rights are.  

Although in principle people in England and Wales can leave their assets to whoever they choose, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 enables the court to direct money and assets to various categories of people where they have not been properly provided for, whether in a Will or under the Intestacy Rules.     

We frequently represent clients in inheritance claims, both on behalf of claimants and on behalf of estates which are under attack. Acting for parties on either side of Inheritance Act disputes enables us to understand and deal with the arguments of our opponents, ensuring that we can achieve the best outcome for our clients.    

Claims may be made by husbands or wives. They are entitled to receive quite generous provision, with courts awarding what is regarded as reasonable. That provision is likely to be similar to the amount which would have gone to the claimant if there had been a divorce instead of their spouse’s death.  

Claims have to be issued in court very quickly after a Grant of Probate, normally within 6 months of the Grant.  

Such claims are particularly suited to mediation. We can often resolve claims we pursue in that manner. We have considerable experience of conducting mediations and other settlement meetings.  Where cases cannot settle, we have great know-how in relation to the court process and how to push for the court to make the right decision at trial.          

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