The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Inheritance Act”) allows certain people to bring a claim against an estate.
Under the Inheritance Act, if someone is excluded from a will, or they receive less from an estate than they anticipated, they may be able to bring a claim for ‘reasonable financial provision’ to be made to them from the deceased person’s estate.
You may want to bring this type of claim if:
- There is no will and you do not receive anything under the Intestacy Rules e.g. because the Intestacy Rules make no provision for unmarried couples
- You have been excluded from a will
- You have not been left as much as you need under either a will or intestacy.
There is a time limit involved to bring Inheritance Act claims, so it is vital to make this type of claim as soon as possible.
Who can bring an Inheritance Act claim?
Only certain people will qualify to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act. These include:
- A spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
- A former spouse or the civil partners of the deceased (who has not remarried or entered into another civil partnership);
- A child of the deceased;
- Anyone who is treated as the deceased’s child e.g. a step-child;
- Certain cohabiting partners (see below); or
- Anyone who was financially dependent upon the deceased prior to the deceased’s death.
Contesting a will – unmarried couples
When someone dies without making a will this is known as dying ‘intestate’ and their estate will be distributed according to the Intestacy Rules. These rules do not make any provision for surviving partners who were either unmarried or did not have a civil partnership with their partner at the date of their partner’s death.
However, some cohabiting partners may be able to bring a claim against their partner’s estate for ‘reasonable financial provision’ under the Inheritance Act.
Can all cohabiting partners claim under the Inheritance Act?
No. Only certain cohabiting partners will qualify.
If a person died after 1 January 1996, their surviving cohabiting partner can usually bring an Inheritance Act claim against their estate, provided that, during the whole of the two year period immediately prior to the death, the surviving partner was living:
(a) in the same household as the deceased, and
(b) as the husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased.
Our dedicated team of solicitors can advise about both bringing and defending claims under the Inheritance Act.
Is there a time limit for Inheritance Act claims?
Inheritance Act claims must usually be brought within 6 months of the date of the grant of probate. Otherwise, the court’s permission will be required to bring a claim and that is not always granted. See our blog Permission granted to bring an Inheritance Act claim after 25 years.
It is therefore important that you consider obtaining obtain specialist legal advice as soon as possible if you are considering making this type of claim.
Our dedicated team of inheritance dispute solicitors can advise about both bringing and defending Inheritance Act claims.
Contact us via the form below or arrange a free initial 30-minute telephone consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is the shortened name of legislation known as the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. It allows certain people to bring a claim against an estate for ‘reasonable financial provision’.
No. Qualifying as a claimant does not automatically guarantee that any payment will be made from the estate.
In order to decide whether or not a claimant should receive a payment from the estate, the court will take a number of factors into account, for example, their financial circumstances and the size of the estate.
The current intestacy rules do not make any provision for unmarried couples who lived together. If you jointly owned assets, such as property, you will need to establish how much of that is owned by you. You may also be able to make a claim under the Inheritance Act for financial provision from your partner’s estate.