As Reading-based solicitors we often get involved in contested or contentious probate issues. There’s a lot of wealth in the Thames Valley and not everyone dies leaving a will that’s properly thought out.
Some people will find it surprising that you can make a claim when you have not inherited what you expected from someone who has died.
The courts are empowered under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to order further payments from the deceased’s estate to those who have not inherited as much as they need.
The time limit for making claims is six months from the date of the Grant of Probate so it is important that you take legal advice quickly. After this deadline, it is still possible to bring such claims, but you will have to explain the delay.
The categories of people who can bring claims are quite broad, including spouses, former spouses, cohabitants and children of the deceased, as well as people treated as a child of the family by the deceased and those financially dependent on the deceased.
Spouses and civil partners are able to claim for such financial provision as is reasonable in all the circumstances. This is similar to the amount they would obtain on a divorce. All other categories of potential claimants are able to claim reasonable financial provision as is necessary for their maintenance, provided the estate can afford it.
There are of course numerous factors to consider before bringing such claims and each case will inevitably be unique. It is therefore sensible to take legal advice early on and we can offer initial advice in a one-hour fixed fee meeting for £95.
We also regularly act for clients who want to defend Inheritance Act claims. Often, if legal advice is sought at an early stage, we can negotiate a compromise, such as agreeing that the provisions of a will be altered. This is particularly important where children are involved or where there are issues regarding potential tax consequences.