The short answer is yes, you can make a claim if you are excluded from a Will in certain circumstances. However, you will need to bring a claim within 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. This is called an Inheritance Act claim.
Not everyone is entitled to make a claim when they have been excluded from a Will, so it is important to check if you meet certain requirements before going ahead.
What is an Inheritance Act claim?
The Inheritance Act aims to protect people who reasonably expected to receive an inheritance from a Will but were unfortunately excluded from it.
Certain people can make a claim if they feel they should have been left something in a Will when someone dies. They must show that they had a relationship with the deceased and that they have not been reasonably provided for financially. This will be explained further in this post.
Each case is considered on its own individual merits as every situation is different. Therefore, it is a good idea to seek independent legal advice to understand whether you are in a position to make a claim under the Inheritance Act.
What is a Grant of Probate?
A Grant of probate gives someone the legal right to deal with a deceased person’s “estate.” It is a legal certificate that gives authority to act according to the Will.
Who applies for a Grant of Probate?
The named executor in a deceased’s person’s Will needs to apply for the Grant of Probate from the probate court.
What happens if someone dies without a Will?
If someone dies without a Will, this is called dying “intestate”. In this case, an application can be made for a grant of Letters of Administration which gives someone authority to handle the estate.
What happens if I am unreasonably excluded from a Will?
If you find that you have been unreasonably excluded from someone’s Will and you feel as though you should not have been, you may be able to go to the court to show that you should have benefited from the Will.
What steps should I take if I am excluded from a Will?
There is no obligation for someone to leave something in their Will for you. But this does not mean that it is not upsetting or a shock if you are excluded from a loved one’s Will intentionally.
If you are excluded from a Will and you believe that you have a right to inherit the proceeds due to the relationship you had with the deceased, then it is reasonable for you to make a claim under the Inheritance Act.
Step 1: Establish whether the Grant of Probate was made less than 6 months prior
Claims under the Inheritance Act must be brought within 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate.
Step 2: Establish whether you are entitled to make a claim
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 outlines people who can make a claim:
- A married or civil partner
- A former spouse or civil partner (provided they have not remarried)
- Any children of the deceased (including adopted children and step-children)
- Anyone who was cared for by the deceased when they died
Step 3: Establish whether you have been reasonably provided for
As part of the claim, the court will need to decide whether you have “reasonable financial provision”.
Reasonable financial provision will depend on the relationship you had with the deceased and the overall situation.
It is down to the court to decide whether the Will or Intestacy Rules (where no Will exists) make a “reasonable financial provision” for the individual making the claim.
The court will consider the following factors:
- The claimant’s current financial position, their resources (such as earnings, savings, and investments), and their predicted future needs.
- The financial needs of any other claimants that are likely to make a claim.
- The financial needs of any other beneficiaries and whether the Will provides them with sufficient financial provision to meet their needs.
- Obligations and responsibilities that the deceased had for claimants and beneficiaries.
- The size of the estate after relevant taxes have been deducted.
- Physical and mental disability of the claimants and beneficiaries.
- Any other relevant factors.
Spouses and civil partners
In relation to any spouses and civil partners of the deceased, the court takes a different approach. The court will seek to understand what the partner would expect to receive in a divorce settlement as well as what finances they may need to maintain and meet their needs such as housing costs and living expenses.
In order to establish these, the court will need to look at how the spouse or civil partner is living, what lifestyle they are used to, and how they typically spend their money.
Step 4: Establish whether the deceased was resident in England and Wales
A claimant can only make a claim against an estate if the deceased was domiciled in England and Wales at the time of death. This means that if the deceased is based abroad, the claimant may not be able to claim against the estate.
Step 5: Seek legal advice and assistance for your claim
It is recommended that you seek legal advice if you believe that you have unfairly been excluded from a Will.
As contentious probate is a complex area of law, a solicitor will be able to advise you as to whether you are entitled to make a claim and what documents you will require to do so.
It is important that you get advice as soon as possible because there is a time limit to such claims and you do not want to miss out.
How we can help you
At Ackroyd Legal, we understand that it is already an upsetting experience to lose a loved one and a somewhat stressful experience when you find that you have not been financially provided for in their Will when you expected to be.
If you find that you need to make a claim under the Inheritance Act, please do not hesitate to contact us to see how we can help you. As each case is very different, we aim to work with you to ensure that you have the best possible chance in your situation.
Contact us today on 020 3058 3363.