Inheritance Problems

When someone dies and a spouse/former spouse or partner/former partner wishes to make a claim against the estate, two different situations can arise.

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When someone dies and a spouse/former spouse or partner/former partner wishes to make a claim against the estate, two different situations can arise.

First, where a Will is made which fails to make reasonable financial provision from the estate for the claimant and second, if no Will was made at all, in which case the intestacy laws apply.  In the latter case, fixed amounts from the assets of the deceased are payable to the surviving spouse, civil partner and children, if any.

In both situations, if the effect of the Will or the laws of intestacy is not to make reasonable financial provision for a potential claimant, then a claim can be made against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Such a claim can only be made if the deceased died domiciled in England and Wales. Domicile can be a complex issue: a person can live in one country but be domiciled in another.

This is one area where former cohabitants have some claims. If a Will or intestacy makes no provision for someone who has cohabited with the deceased for at least the two years immediately before the death, a claim can be made under the 1975 Act.

If the Will is invalid or was made at a time when the deceased lacked mental capacity, the Will may be challenged.

Hughes Fowler Carruthers has extensive experience in dealing with claims under the 1975 Act.