In most cases, the wishes of the deceased would remain unchallenged as, in most cases, the person who made the Will would have received adequate and appropriate legal advice at the time of making their Will. However, let’s say that a former spouse, child, or a cohabitee of a person who dies in England or Wales is excluded from their Will, or left just a nominal amount, then there are scenarios whereby they can make a request for a Court to order an amount be paid to them even if the deceased person has left a valid Will. The same applies to the Intestacy Rules of England and Wales.
Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“1975 Act”), certain people connected to a person who dies domiciled in England and Wales can ask a Court to make an award in their favour, even if the deceased person leaves a Will excluding them, or providing very little for them, or the Intestacy Rules in England and Wales do not provide adequately for them.
Who can make a claim for an award from a deceased’s Estate?
Under section 1 of the 1975 Act (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1975/63/section/1), the following people can make a claim:
- a spouse or civil partner;
- a former spouse or civil partner;
- people treated as children; and
- anyone maintained by the deceased at the date of their death.
For more information on the formalities for such a claim, and who can bring a 1975 Act, check out our blog "Can I claim some inheritance if I am excluded from a will?".
I am excluded from a Will, what can a Court award in my favour?
In most cases, save for a spouse or civil partner, the award of the Court will be limited to “reasonable financial provision” for your “maintenance”.
In deciding whether to make an award the Court considers various factors, including:
- the financial resources and financial needs (current and foreseeable future) of the applicant, any other potential beneficiary and the beneficiary/beneficiaries of the Will or Intestacy Rules;
- the obligations and responsibilities of the deceased person towards the parties;
- the size and nature of the deceased’s estate;
- any physical or mental disabilities of the parties; and
- any other relevant factor, including conduct.
These factors are outlined in full in section 3(1) of the 1975 Act (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1975/63/section/3), and there are also other factors that relate to specific types of applicants outlined in the remainder of section 3 of the 1975 Act.
What are the possible outcomes of a 1975 Act claim?
Once the Court has considered all the relevant factors, it could conclude that they believe that the Will or Intestacy Rules does make “reasonable financial provision” for the applicant, and the applicant could lose their claim (and potentially be liable for the other sides costs, as well as their own).
If however the Court considers that the Will or Intestacy Rules does not make “reasonable financial provision” for the applicant, the Court has a wide discretion and powers to make a range of orders as outlined in section 2 of the 1975 Act (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1975/63/section/2), including but not limited to:
- periodical/income payments;
- a lump sum;
- the transfer of a property outright; and/or
- a right to occupy a property.
The award could be an outright award with immediate effect, or be on a deferred basis, or include putting assets/money into trust; each case will be decided upon its own facts.
Are there any time limits for bringing a claim under the 1975 Act?
Yes, you should issue Court proceedings within 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate (if the person died leaving a Will) or Letters of Administration (if the person died without leaving a Will). Although, after 6 months, you can request the Court’s permission to still be allowed to bring a claim, and there is a list of factors the Court will take into account when considering such a request.
I think I have a valid claim. What should I do next?
If you or someone you know has been excluded from a valid Will or the Intestacy Rules and you are in financial need and believe you should be financially provided for out of the deceased’s estate, then you, or they, might have a 1975 claim.
In the first instance you should discuss the potential claim with a solicitor who can advise on whether your situation does meet the criteria for making an application to Court.
Here at Thornton Jones Solicitors we have a specialist team of solicitors who can assist you and guide you through the process of making an application. To find out more call us for a free initial consultation at any of our four West Yorkshire based offices.
Call us to discuss further and to make an appointment at any of our four West Yorkshire based offices.
Solicitors in Wakefield - Call 01924 290 029
Solicitors in Garforth - Call 0113 246 4423
Solicitors in Ossett - Call 01924 586 466
Solicitors in Sherburn in Elmet - Call 01977 350 500
Thornton Jones Solicitors are a firm of Solicitors in Wakefield. We have a wealth of experience in providing Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate, Contentious Probate and other Private Client Solicitor services. We also have offices in Garforth, Ossett and Sherburn in Elmet so if you are looking for a Solicitor in Garforth or a Solicitor in Sherburn in Elmet then call us to discuss your matter and to book an appointment.