Generally speaking we are free to dispose of our assets as we see fit when we die, however, the law does provide provision for people who have been financially dependant on the deceased. The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975, commonly known as the Inheritance Act is designed to help spouses, children and cohabitees and other dependants who have been left to cope without sufficient money to get by on.
Who can make an Inheritance Act claim?
- spouse/civil partner
- former spouse/civil partner who has not remarried or entered into a civil partnership
- someone who has been living with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death
- deceased's children (including adult children)
- someone treated as the deceased's child e.g. adopted, fostered or step-child
- someone who was 'maintained' by the deceased
Is there a time limit for making a claim under the Inheritance Act?
- any claim under the Inheritance Act must be brought within six months of probate being granted
- in exceptional circumstances an extension to this time limit may be allowed
What can a court direct under a successful Inheritance Act claim?
- an order for the claimant to receive regular payments for a period decided by the judge
- an order for the claimant to receive a single lump sum payment
- an order for property owned by the deceased to be transferred to the claimant
- an order creating a trust for the claimant
- an interim settlement to meet immediate financial needs offset against any final settlement
What factors must a court consider when making an order under an Inheritance Act claim?
- financial resources and future needs of the claimant
- financial resources and future needs of any other claimants under the Inheritance Tax Act
- financial resources and future needs of any beneficiary of the estate
- size and nature of the net assets of the estate
- physical or mental disability of the claimant or any beneficiary of the estate
- any other relevant issues including the conduct of the claimant or other connected individual