It is a difficult time when a loved one dies, even more so if you then discover their Will doesn’t include you, perhaps because it was made a long time ago and never updated. Or it could be there was no Will in place, and if you are not a family member, you do not stand to benefit.
You may be able to apply for a court order to vary the result of the intestacy rules, which come into play when there is no Will, or if there is a Will but it fails to make reasonable financial provision for you.
Our clients benefit from our insight and understanding of both sides of Inheritance Act cases, gained from working with individuals disputing a Will, making an inheritance claim and also with executors and beneficiaries responding to a claim.
It is possible for certain family members and dependants to apply to the court to vary how the estate is divided under the intestacy rules or the Will if reasonable financial provision was not made. You can apply to the court if you were
- married to the deceased or in a civil partnership
- a former spouse or civil partner of the deceased
- a child of the deceased or treated as their child (including adult children)
- financially looked after by the deceased
- living with the deceased as their partner for at least two years before their death.
If you make an inheritance claim, the court will consider a number of factors, such as the physical and mental health of the deceased, their obligations and responsibilities and the size and nature of their estate (the assets they left behind). They will also take into account your financial needs and resources as well as those of the existing beneficiaries. Each case is different and depends on its own facts.
If you want to make an inheritance claim, there is a time limit. Applications must normally be made within six months of the date of grant of probate (the official document confirming who is to administer the estate). It is important to act quickly because of the time limits and also risk that assets might have been distributed already if you delay.