Inheritance Act Disputes (Left Out of a Will)

Under English law a person making a will has complete freedom as to who they leave their estate to, whether it’s a partner, their children or a charity.

However, there are occasions where due to the contents of a testator’s will, or more commonly where a person has not left a will at all, a person does not receive either anything from the deceased’s estate, or believes that they have not been adequately provided for.

The solicitors at JMW have helped many people resolve disputes about being left out of a will. We understand these matters can be incredibly delicate and will work sensitively and professionally to ensure disputes are resolved quickly and efficiently.

To speak to a solicitor about an Inheritance Act dispute, get in touch by calling 0345 872 6666 or by filling in our online contact form and requesting a callback.

Who Can Make a Claim?

If you are an existing beneficiary of an estate and are made aware of such a claim being made, you will also need to consider legal advice if you wish to defend the claim and protect your inheritance.

Examples of people who might be able to make a successful claim against a deceased’s estate include:

  • Spouse/civil partner
  • Children
  • A partner who lived with them for a period of two or more years immediately before death
  • An ex-spouse/civil partner who has not remarried or formed a new civil partnership
  • A person treated by the deceased as a child, for example, a stepchild
  • A person being financially maintained by the deceased

Merely falling into one of the above categories will not be sufficient enough to convince a court to deviate from the wishes of the deceased. Key considerations will include:

  • The financial needs of other parties who benefit under the will or intestacy rules
  • The nature of the relationship of the person claiming from the estate with the deceased

These are just two of the important considerations when trying to convince a court to make an award from an estate.

Deed of Variation

Sometimes where there is an agreement between all parties that someone should have received a larger share of a deceased’s estate a document called a Deed of Variation can be completed to vary the terms of the will or the distribution under the intestacy rules. For more information about when this might be appropriate, please visit our Deed of Variation page.

FAQs

  1. My partner died without making a will. Is there anything I can do?

    The intestacy rules, which set out who inherits where a person dies without a will, do not make any provision for a partner to inherit their other half’s estate on death, even where a couple have lived together for a number of years.

    However, it is possible to bring a claim for reasonable financial maintenance if you have lived with that person for the two years prior to their passing as their spouse or civil partner or if you were being maintained, either entirely or in part, by them prior to their death.

     

  2. There is a valid will but I don’t think it is fair. Can I do anything about this?

    Under English law, a person making a will has complete freedom as to who they leave their estate to, whether it’s a partner, their children or a charity. A will cannot be challenged on the basis that someone simply does not like who a person has left their estate to.

    However, where a person was financially dependent on the deceased or being maintained by them, it is possible for that person to bring a claim before a court to alter a will, or to alter the distribution under the intestacy rules where no will was left, so as to make financial provision for that person.

     

  3. Is there a time limit for me to bring a claim?

    A claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (also known as “The Inheritance Act”) must be brought within six months of a Grant of Representation being obtained to the deceased’s estate.

    For the majority of other claims against a person’s estate, a claim may be brought up to 12 years from the death of the deceased.

     

Why Choose JMW?

We are highly experienced in dealing with Inheritance Act claims and are able to act for our client under a number of different funding arrangements, ranging from privately funded to conditional fee arrangements or third-party loans. We will work with you to determine the most appropriate way to fund your claim.

If you wish to bring an Inheritance Act claim, the cost of litigation must be considered carefully before any application is brought before the court; we can provide further detailed advice on the associated costs of such litigation.

Talk to Us

If you need legal help to challenge a will that you have been left out of or not adequately provided for, contact our expert solicitors today. Call 0345 872 6666 or fill out our online enquiry and somebody will get back to you.

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