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The costs of bringing an Inheritance Act claim – How we can help

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If you have realised that a Will does not make financial provision for you, you may in certain circumstances be able to ask the Court to consider whether this is reasonable. In this situation, many may feel that they are unable to obtain solicitor representation to pursue a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (‘the Inheritance Act’) simply because of the costs of instructing a solicitor.

Certain individuals are able to bring an inheritance claim under the Act, in circumstances where no provision or inadequate provision has been made for you either under the terms of a Will or as a result of the Intestacy Rules. In those cases the question is how do you bring an inheritance claim?

How do you bring a claim under the Inheritance Act?

The Inheritance Act sets out what the Courts will take into account when considering an inheritance claim and when deciding if reasonable financial provision has been made for you.

These include:

  • the financial resources of the person making the inheritance claim
  • the deceased's moral obligations
  • the size and nature of the estate
  • any physical/mental disability suffered by the person making the inheritance claim
  • anything else which may be relevant e.g. the conduct of the applicant and the executors of the estate.

“Some clients worry they do not have the financial resources to instruct a Solicitor on a privately paying basis, in fact  it is the thought of incurring legal bills that means pursuing a claim may be prohibited”, said Head of Inheritance and Will Disputes, Laura Pracy.

Who can bring a claim under the Inheritance Act?

For applicants, other than a spouse or civil partner, reasonable financial provision is limited to what would be reasonable for them to receive for their maintenance.

Individuals who can make a claim under the Inheritance Act include:

  • a spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • a former spouse or civil partner of the deceased who has not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership
  • any person who during the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died, the person was living:
    • (a) in the same household as the deceased and
    • (b) as the husband or wife of the deceased
  • a child of the deceased (including adult children)
  • a person treated as a child of the family (which includes step-children)
  • dependents being any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained by the deceased

Firstly, to make an application under the Inheritance Act, the deceased must have been 'domiciled' in England or Wales. This broadly means that the deceased was permanently based in this jurisdiction.

Inheritance Disputes Solicitors offer advice on how to pursue an Inheritance Act claim

‘We understand that this can be a difficult time when you have discovered that you have not inherited either under a Will or as a consequence of the Intestacy rules. At Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers, we are able to offer different ways to fund a claim under the Inheritance Act, and this can in certain cases include us acting for you on under a Conditional Fee Agreement, sometimes known as ‘No Win No Fee’,” says Laura Pracy.

A Conditional Fee Agreement (‘CFA’) can be entered into as a way of funding a claim under the Inheritance Act. The CFA would contain a success fee (which is based on a percentage of the basic costs). This would allow the claim to be brought and you would not have to pay your solicitors costs if your claim was unsuccessful. If your inheritance claim was to be successful then you would be required to pay those costs from the award received and subject to the payment of a success fee.

Due to the change brought in for Personal Injury cases, when pursuing a claim the winning party is no longer able to recover the success fee element of the costs from their opponent.  However, this has recently been considered further by the Courts in dealing with Inheritance Act claims.

Inheritance Act Case

In the case of Bullock v Denton and Willoughby, Mr Denton died at the age of 56. Mrs Bullock had lived with Mr Denton for  3 to 4 years before he died. His Will however left his large estate to his brother and no provision had been made for Mrs Bullock. Mr Denton’s brother claimed she was merely a housekeeper and denied her any claim on the estate.  The Judge found in the partner’s favour and said but for the sad passing of her partner, the couple would still be living together and he allowed her to claim on the estate. Mrs Bullock secured a life interest in a property of £140,000 plus a lump sum of £70,000. This case is important as the £70,000 lump sum included £25,000 towards the success fee Mrs Bullock would have been required to pay.

For help and advice on Inheritance Disputes or just to chat to one of our Contentious Probate team about the prospects when challenging and contesting a Will call us on 0161 785 3500 or email  or complete an Make an enquiryonline enquiry form.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Laura Pracy


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