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  9. Inheritance Act claims – expert legal advice

Inheritance Act claims – expert legal advice

Lodders’ expert inheritance disputes solicitors explain how to make a claim under the Inheritance Act, and other options for contesting a will.

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What is an Inheritance Act claim?

If you have concerns over your entitlement to someone’s estate because they did not leave a will and the Intestacy Rules mean that you will either (a) not be entitled to a share of their estate or (b) not enough provision will be made for you, you may have the right to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”).

Equally, if a will was prepared but you have not been mentioned in it or insufficient provision has been made for you, the Act might still be of assistance. The Act allows specific categories of people to pursue a claim and sets out the factors which the court will consider in deciding whether that claim will be successful.

Who can make an Inheritance Act claim?

  • A spouse or partner of the deceased
  • An adult child of the deceased
  • A child of the family
  • A co-habitee of 2 years or more
  • A former spouse or civil partner
  • Someone who was maintained by the deceased for at least 2 years immediately before their death

How to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975

The court will consider many factors when reaching its decision, such as your financial needs and resources as well as those of any other beneficiary or person entitled to bring a claim under the Act. The court will also consider the size of the estate and the circumstances of the whole case when reaching its decision about whether an award should be made.

This is a complex and developing area of law and your relationship with the deceased and the circumstances of your case will affect the outcome you might expect to secure.

It is also important to note that a claim must be made within 6 months of a Grant of Probate being issued.

If you are outside of this time limit, an application for permission to issue your claim late will first need to be made. You would need a good reason as to why you did not bring your claim within the time limit before a Judge will consider granting your application. Your claim will only be heard if your application is successful.

In recent years the courts have taken a much more lenient approach to granting applications. Therefore, whilst the need to bring such an application is not fatal to a potential claim, it does create an extra hurdle to having your case heard. It is therefore important to act quickly.

Lodders can help assess the strengths of your case and provide guidance on whether a claim might be worth pursuing.

Similarly, if you have received notification of a proposed claim and are worried about your position, we can help assess the strength of that claim and provide advice on how best to proceed; whether that involves engaging in settlement discussions, formal mediation or robustly defending the claim at court.

How to challenge the validity of a will

In circumstances where the Act may not be of assistance, it may still be possible to challenge a will if you have any of the following concerns about the testator (the testator is the person whose will is being challenged):

  • The testator lacked capacity to make the will
  • The testator was unduly influenced by another beneficiary
  • The testator had no knowledge of, nor did they approve the contents of the will
  • A beneficiary made untrue comments to the testator about another beneficiary which resulted in the testator reducing or excluding the inheritance which they would otherwise have left to that beneficiary, in favour of the person who made the comments. This is known as ‘fraudulent calumny’.

You can also challenge the validity of a will if you believe:

  • It was fraudulently prepared or signed
  • It did not comply with the rules of formality set out in the Wills Act 1837
  • A particular clause in the will should be interpreted in a specific way

If you consider that you have grounds for challenging the validity of a will on any of these grounds, it is important to act quickly. You can enter a Caveat to stop a Grant of Probate from going through.

For more guidance on how Caveats work, please click here. This article also provides useful guidance on what can be done when someone has entered a Caveat that is preventing you from obtaining a Grant and the steps you can take to have that Caveat removed.

What if a Grant of Probate has been issued?

If a Grant of Probate has already been issued, then it will make matters more complicated but a challenge can still be bought. We would need to consider bringing an application to have the Grant revoked and seek an assurance from the executors that the estate will not be distributed until your challenge has been addressed. However, you must act quickly because if the estate has already been distributed then there will be very little that can be done.

Alternatively, if you are an Executor or principal beneficiary of an estate and are faced with a disappointed beneficiary threatening to bring a claim that the will is invalid we can also assist you. We can review the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed claim and strategically assist you by helping to remove the risk of litigation. There are many ways in which we can do this; whether that is by helping to resolve the dispute by reaching an out-of-court settlement or proceeding to a fully contested trial over the issues.

Need more advice on your Inheritance Act claim?

Get in touch with our disputed wills and estate specialists for a free initial conversation to see how we can help. You’ll receive a free, no-obligation meeting where we discuss the matter with you.

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Our expertise provides much-needed clarity for clients, supported by our highly personal and empathetic approach to client care. Speak to our expert Anjali Narshi for advice regarding disputed wills and estates today.


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Questions answered

Not sure that this is the service for you? Take a look at some of our frequently asked questions for more information.

A will is a legal document that expresses what happens to an individuals finances, property and assets after their death.

A will may also include other decisions around important responsibilities, such as childcare.

Failing to prepare a will can mean that officials then need to decide what happens to the deceased's finances, property, assets, children, etc.

Wills can be challenged as invalid on a variety of grounds, including lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, improper execution, and fraud.

We can help if our client feels that inadequate financial provision has been made, or if they wish to challenge the statutory provisions that apply when no valid will exists. If a will is wrong, or an estate isn’t administered in the right way, we can sue for professional negligence.

A testator is a name/term for someone who has created a will.

With top tier rankings for private client legal advice from both Chambers and the Legal 500, we have a national reputation for excellence. Lodders has a dedicated team across three offices in Stratford upon Avon, Henley in Arden, and Cheltenham, and our services include all aspects of wills, trusts, estates and tax planning, and care and capacity matters.

Our solicitors, who specialise in wills, understand all the concerns and challenges involved in managing wills. No matter how simple or complex, we can provide you with a complete drafting service for wills, trusts and supporting documentation. Drawing on our experience of preparing hundreds of wills each year, we offer clear and uncomplicated advice to help you provide for the welfare of your family.

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