Inheritance Act claims in the news again

We reported in our March newsletter on the case of the widow who was not allowed to make a late claim against her husband's estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Act). The Act enables someone who has not had 'reasonable financial provision' made for them in a will to make a claim against the estate.

If an applicant is entitled to make a claim under the Act, they have six months from the date of issue of the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration) to make a claim.

In the recent case, a Court refused an application by a widow to claim against the estate of her late husband. The Court said that to allow an application out of time, there must be exceptional circumstances.

However, almost immediately after that case, comes another in which a claim under the Act was permitted some 25 years after the deadline had passed!

In this case, the deceased had died without making a will and his estate had not been properly administered. The Court was prepared to allow the widow's very late claim for a combination of reasons including that she had a strong claim, she had not been to blame for a failure to administer the estate and to refuse her claim would leave her homeless.

This case does mean that there is uncertainty for claimants in this area. If a person thinks that they have been left out of a will (or should have a claim if the deceased died without a will), they should take specialist advice. The case reminds us that a late claim may still be permitted.

To discuss this or any other private client matter, contact us.