This may mean that the Deceased made some financial provision – but that this was not adequate for the loved one’s needs. Alternatively, they may have left the loved one out of their Will altogether. In these circumstances, a claim under the Inheritance Act* may be possible. A claim under the Inheritance Act might also be brought if there is no Will but the rules of intestacy mean that a loved one will not be provided for.
There are only certain categories of people that can make a claim under the Inheritance Act. These include:
- the spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
- a former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased, provided that they have not entered into a new marriage or civil partnership;
- a child of the deceased (including adult children);
- a person who was treated by the deceased as a child of the family;
- a person who immediately before the Deceased’s death was being ‘maintained’ by the Deceased, wholly or partly; or
- a cohabitee provided that they have cohabited with the Deceased for at least 2 years up until the Deceased’s death
Note that claimants may fall into more than one category – for example, a cohabitee may also have been ‘maintained’ by the Deceased.
It is extremely important to appreciate that claims made under the Inheritance Act are subject to a strict six month time limit from the date that the Grant of Probate or Representation is issued. In very exceptional circumstances this might be extended but this is very unlikely.
Will my claim succeed?
In England and Wales, parents are under no duty to provide for their adult children. This may be contrasted with the position in Scotland, where children may claim a portion of their Deceased parent’s ‘movable’ (i.e. money rather than land and buildings) estate if they want to. Therefore the fact that a parent did not leave anything to their adult child in their Will does not necessarily mean there is a claim and in some cases (such as Ames) the judge has concluded that the child can support themselves without requiring an award from their Deceased parent’s estate. However, it may equally be said that the fact a parent had no relationship with an adult child and did nothing to ‘maintain’ them is not a bar to making a claim as the recent case of Ilott v Blue Cross and others demonstrated. In that case the estranged daughter was finally awarded £50,000, despite having no relationship with her mother prior to her death. Each case turns on its own facts.
* Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975