Many think that, by making a Will, you dictate who receives what when you die. Aren’t the succession laws in this Country built specifically to give us testamentary freedom – meaning that we can make a Will leaving our wealth to whomever we desire? But does making a Will really mean you have the final say?
Afraid not ……
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 & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Inheritance Act”).
Certain categories of people may apply which include:-
1. Surviving spouses and civil partners;
2. Former 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;
3. Cohabitees – which is defined as a couple living as husband and wife, or civil partners, for two years or more at the time of death;
4. Children – which is not restricted to minor children, this includes independent adult children;
5. Persons treated as a child of the family – i.e. step-children; and
6. Any other person who was dependant 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. Its essential, therefore, that you instruct a solicitor not only with the relevant expertise, but also the compassion and understanding required as this difficult time. WBW’s Amy Kernohan is a specialist in inheritance disputes and would he happy to assist with any enquiries you have.