If someone has been left out of the Will of someone close them then it may be possible for that person to make a claim for “Reasonable Financial Provision” from the estate of the deceased.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 allows the Court to make an order to distribute an estate in manner different to any valid Wills or the intestacy rules.
To succeed with a claim, it is necessary to show that:
- the person making the claim is one of specified class of people who can bring a claim; and
- reasonable financial provision has not been made for them.
The specified classes of people who can bring a claim are those whose are either very close to the deceased such as a spouse, civil partner, co-habitee, child, or someone who was otherwise financially dependent on them before the death.
What is Reasonable Financial Provision?
The court will consider the following factors (amongst others) when deciding what reasonable financial provision would be:
- the financial resources and needs of the person making the claim;
- the financial resources and needs of the other beneficiaries;
- any obligations or responsibilities which the deceased had to the various parties;
- the size of the estate;
- any physical or mental disability of any applicant or beneficiary.
If a court agrees Reasonable Financial Provision has not been made, then it will order that such should be made from the estate. Unless the person making a claim is a spouse or civil partner then the “Reasonable Financial Provision” will only reflect what is required for maintenance.
Accordingly, it remains the case that a person is allowed to decide what they wish in respect of their estate and the court will only intervene to provide “Reasonable Financial Provision” rather than create an equal distribution between family members. In general, adult children who are not financially reliant on a parent will struggle to succeed with a claim. By contrast, a spouse with a financial need, that has not been provided for, will likely succeed with a claim.
Within any claim of this nature, the executors should remain neutral. The Claim is instead defended by the other beneficiaries of the estate. As such, the costs incurred generally fall outside of the estate (they are for each party to bear) unless there is agreement otherwise.
There is six-month period to make a claim for Reasonable Financial Provision that starts on the date probate is granted. There are however practical steps that can be taken to stop a grant of probate to allow further time to consider the options and, if necessary, make a claim.
Making or defending a claim for Reasonable Financial Provision can be complex, time consuming, and an emotionally draining process. It is therefore best to obtain advice from a specialist solicitor at an early stage.
Our goal at RHL Solicitors is to help you through this process with care, expertise, and easy to understand advice.
If you are concerned about the result of yours or a loved one’s inheritance tax claim, contact our specialist contentious probate team who will be more than happy to discuss the matter further.
RHL Solicitors will have no delays or waiting times in advising you on your situation and will be quick to get you the support and care you deserve.