“I haven’t been provided for in my relative’s will - what can I do?”
In the UK, certain people can make a claim against another person’s estate if they haven’t been reasonably provided for - either as a result of the terms of their will or because they have died without a will under the Inheritance Act 1975.
Who can make a claim?
If you are the deceased person’s spouse or civil partner, former spouse or civil partner, cohabitee (for more than 2 years), child, someone treated as a child, or someone else who was financially dependent on the deceased, you are able to bring forward a claim.
What is “reasonable financial provision”?
Under the Act, if you were the deceased’s spouse or civil partner, the court can make an order that you receive financial provision from the estate that would be reasonable in all the circumstances, whether or not the provision is required for your maintenance.
If you fall into one of the other categories of claimant, you can only claim for what is reasonable in all the circumstances for your maintenance.
For example, if you lived with the deceased for the two years up to their death, you may apply for reasonable provision for your maintenance. One way a court might address this is to look at the shortfall in your income if you were to continue to have a reasonable standard of living. This could mean a monthly payment was awarded by the court, or a lump sum instead of a monthly payment, calculated by reference to your life expectancy.
What other types of order can the court make?
As well as regular payments and lump sums, the court can order for property to be transferred to you, for assets to be placed on trust for you, for the acquisition of property, and for variations to be made to pre- and post- nuptial agreements.
What will the court take into account when making an order?
The court will look at:
• your financial resources and needs, as well as the financial resources and needs of the beneficiaries of the estate and any other claimants
• the deceased’s obligations and responsibilities towards you, the beneficiaries and any other claimants
• the size and nature of the estate. For example, if it is a very large estate it might be easier to provide for everyone
• any physical or mental disability you may have, and likewise the beneficiaries and any other claimants
• any other matters, including conduct, which it feels is relevant
There are additional matters the court will take into account for different types of applicants - for example if you are the deceased’s spouse or civil partner, the court will take into account the length of your marriage or civil partnership.
How do I make a claim?
A claim under the Act is made under Part 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules. It must usually be made within 6 months of a grant of probate being issued. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice to help you to do this.
Do I need to speak with a lawyer?
Where possible, you should always speak with a lawyer specialised in this area of law. For example, a member of SFE who is experienced in dealing with these matters.
You can find a local SFE lawyer near you here: https://www.sfe.legal/find-a-lawyer