Many think that, by making a Will, you dictate who receives what when you die. The succession laws in this Country were built specifically to give us testamentary freedom – meaning that we can make a Will leaving our wealth to whomever we desire. However, a Will is not necessarily the final say!
Sometimes, insufficient provision is made for those left behind, whether under a Will or on Intestacy. In some circumstances, it is possible for those people to make a claim for reasonable financial provision and such a claim is brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975 (“The Inheritance Act).
Certain categories of people may apply which include:-
- Surviving spouses and civil partners;
- Fomer spouses and former civil partners – so long as they have not remarried. However, it is common for a restriction to be included if a “clean break” order was made which would prevent such a claim being brought;
- Cohabitees – which is defines as a couple living as husband and wife, or civil partners, for two years or more at the time of death;
- Children – which is not restricted to minor children, so includes independent adult children;
- Persons treated as a child of the family i.e. step-children; and
- Any other person who was dependent upon the deceased at the time of death.
The Inheritance Act is worth considering whether you are making a Will and excluding someone who falls within one of the above categories, or if you find yourself excluded or given restricted provision from a loved ones estate.
Inheritance disputes are complex and incredibly emotional. It is essential, therefore, that you instruct a solicitor not only with the relevant expertise, but also the compassion and understanding required at this difficult time. WBW’s Amy Kernohan is a specialist in inheritance disputes and would be happy to assist with any enquiries you have.