Under the Inheritance Act

Claims for financial maintenance

A claim for financial maintenance against an estate can be made under the Inheritance Act 1975, if they where maintained by the Deceased prior to their death.

The category of persons entitled to bring a claim are limited by Section 1 of the Act which provides that only those persons listed below can bring a claim :-

  • • The spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • • A former spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or formed another civil partnership
  • • A person who was co-habiting with the deceased as his spouse or civil partner 2 years prior to the death
  • • A child of the deceased, or
  • • Any person other than those mentioned above who was being maintained by the Deceased before his death

Important Time Limits

The time limits to bring a claim are very strict, with the Act providing that a claim MUST be brought within 6 months of the grant of probate being issued.

Successful claims: what will I receive?

If successful with a Claim, the level of maintenance by the Court ultimately depends upon the Claimant. For example, a spouse may receive such sum as is reasonable in all the circumstances, even though those sums may not be required for maintenance. In those cases other than a spouse the Court on a successful claim will order such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case.

Awards of maintenance are never easy to assess, and therefore it is very important to seek immediate legal help given the very tight timescales. However, factors that the Court will consider are :-

  • • Any obligations / responsibilities the deceased may have had before his / her death
  • • Size and nature of the estate
  • • And other matters to include the conduct of the parties

Practical points

Inheritance Act claims because of the tight time limits and assessment of damages are very complex. However it is always sensible to apply for what is known as a Standing Search. This is an application made to the probate registry which notifies an potential claimant within a matter of days when a grant has been issued by the Courts, and is therefore useful in ensuring compliance with the time limits.

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