Inheritance Disputes

Inheritance Disputes image

This is compounded by the complexity of the law surrounding property ownership, wills, trusts and inheritance. Add to that fears about the costs of care in old age it is perhaps surprising that there are not more disputes.

By Nigel Mills, Senior Associate Solicitor, in the Dispute Resolution Team

employment dispute solicitor

In this article I will mention one aspect of inheritance related disputes, which from experience is not so well known by the general public, but which can arise quite frequently. That is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 or as more commonly known ‘in the trade’ as “the 1975 Act”.

In simple terms, for a restricted group of people, an application can be made to the court for an order that some form of financial provision is made for the applicant or applicants if the deceased’s will (or if no will has been made then the law on intestacy) is not such as to make reasonable financial provision for the applicant or applicants.

The applicants in such cases are commonly either children or partners of the deceased although potentially applications can be made by a wider group of qualifying individuals.

Such claims are commonly made by cohabitees especially since the law on intestacy makes no allowance for unmarried partners or those not in a civil partnership.  In an intestacy, in the absence of any lifetime arrangements,  the surviving partner will not receiving anything from the estate of the deceased if they are not married or in a civil partnership.

Other common situations are where reasonable financial provision is not made for a child or children of the deceased. That can include adult children.

What is also often not fully appreciated is that the 1975 Act has a wide definition of what is the “net estate” of the deceased. This can include property which would not normally show up as being part of the estate for probate purposes such as the deceased’s share in a jointly owned land which would otherwise passed by survivorship to the other co-owner or co-owners, pensions, etc.

If you think that this may be an issue that affects you, it is vital that urgent legal advice is sought, as there are time limits under the 1975 Act which are strictly enforced.

 

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