Inheritance claim - get it in on time

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (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 a 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. Unfortunately for the widow in this case, no such circumstances existed.

The Court also said that any delay should only be weeks rather than months.

In the case, the widow said that she had not fully understood the implications of her late husband creating two trusts in his will, into which most of his assets were placed. She also said that she was not aware of the six-month time limit to make the application. Her application was made about 18 months after expiry of the six-month time limit.

The Judge was firm in his view that the six-month time limit existed to ensure that estates were administered in a timely manner and to avoid stressful and lengthy litigation.  He placed high regard on the protection of the beneficiaries of the estate.

The case is an important reminder that the six-month time limit for claim under the Act will be strictly applied.  Many people also do not seek legal advice on the death of a loved one – but the case is a timely reminder that professional advice to explain the nature and effect of a will can be vital.

To discuss this or any other wills and probate related matter, contact us.