Claiming against the Estate of a Deceased Person

4th March 2015
Claiming against the Estate of a Deceased Person image

Claiming against an Estate of a Deceased Person

Introduction

If a family member dies and either as a result of the deceased’s Will or the intestacy rules (which govern who gets what when a person dies without leaving a valid Will) you do not get an inheritance or an inheritance that you consider to be insufficient, you might still be able to make a claim/further claim against the estate of that deceased person under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”).

The Grounds for the Claim

There is just one ground upon which you can make such a claim namely:-

“That the disposition of the deceased’s estate effected by his Will or the law relating to intestacy or the combination of his Will and that law, is not such as to make reasonable financial provision for the applicant.”

The Act does provide some guidance on “reasonable financial provision”.

Reasonable Financial Provision

Expectations of reasonable financial provision will depend upon the type of applicant.

  1. Spouse

Unless at the date of death there was in force a separation order and the separation was continuing, the standard of reasonable financial provision shall be:-

“Such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for a husband or wife to receive, whether or not that provision is required for his or her maintenance.”

If there is a separation order in force and separation is continuing, then the standard will be:-

“Such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the applicant to receive for his maintenance.”

When the deceased and the survivor were engaged in matrimonial proceedings that have not resulted in an order for ancillary relief at the date of death (i.e. financial issues were outstanding) and an application is made for reasonable provision within 12 months of that death, the Court will in effect entirely ignore the fact that there was a divorce.

This will not apply to a separation order situation unless, at the date of death, the order was in force and the separation was continuing.

  1. Civil Partner

Similar provisions apply in respect of these applicants as per spouses.

  1. Other Applicants

The standard here is the same as that for a spouse/civil partner with a separation order, namely, such provisions as would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the applicant to receive for their maintenance.

Categories of possible applicants here include former spouse/civil partner who has remained un-married/not in a civil partnership, a co-habitee, a person who prior to the date of the death of the deceased was wholly or partly maintained by the deceased (and not necessarily a family member), a child of the deceased and any other child treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to a marriage/civil partnership.

Factors to be considered

In determining an application, the Court must consider factors which may vary according to the status of the applicant.  There are some common factors as follows:-

(i)         The applicant’s future financial needs and resources (including earning capacity).

(ii)         The future financial needs and resources (including earning capacity) of any other applicant.

(iii)        The future financial needs and resources of any beneficiary (including earning capacity).

(iv)        The deceased’s obligations and responsibilities towards any applicant or beneficiary.

(v)         The size and nature of the deceased’s net estate.

(vi)        The physical and/or mental condition of the applicant or any beneficiary.

(vii)       Any other matter the Court considers relevant (including the conduct of any party).

If you wish to consider making a claim against an estate, or you are a beneficiary or executor in effect facing a claim from another party then please contact Daven Nagen on 01775 722261 or email daven.naghen@maplessolicitors.com or call in or visit our offices at 23 New  Road Spalding Lincolnshire PE11 1DH.

If you want advice in making your Will in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of such claims being made against your estate then please either contact one the Wills, Probate & Trusts Team:

Jane Mawer on 01775 722261 or email jane.mawer@maplessolicitors.com

Faye Blair on 01775 722261 or email faye.blair@maplessolicitors.com 

Jamie Dobbs on 01775 722261 or email jamie.dobbs@maplessolicitors.com or visit our offices at 23 New Road Spalding Lincolnshire PE11 1DH.


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