In her new column, Private Client Disputes solicitor Helena Taylor looks at common scenarios the team encounter, how they can arise and be avoided, and what to do should they happen to you.
Challenging a Will
There are various reasons why someone may choose to challenge a Will. For example, there may be concerns that the person who made the Will lacked capacity at the time it was signed or that they were pressured into making their Will. These challenges focus on the validity of the Will, however, it is also possible for a specific class of individuals to challenge a valid Will in the event that it does not provide “reasonable financial provision”. Such a claim is made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”).
- Who can make a claim under the Act?
The classes of individuals who can make a claim for financial provision under the Act include:
- a spouse/civil partner of the deceased (or a former spouse/civil partner provided they have not remarried);
- a person who was living with the deceased for two years prior to the death as if they were a spouse/civil partner;
- a child of the deceased (including adult children);
- a person treated as a child of the family; or
- dependants of the deceased.
2. What does “reasonable financial provision” mean?
For a spouse, this means such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for a husband or wife to receive, whether or not that provision is required for his or her maintenance. For all other categories of individuals, it means such financial provision as it would be reasonable for the applicant to receive for his or her maintenance. A potential claimant will need to be prepared to provide full disclosure of their financial circumstances (such as bank statements and details of assets) at an early stage in order to demonstrate their need for financial provision.
3. What will the Court take into account when considering a claim?
There are various factors the Court will consider. These include (but are not limited to) the financial resources of the person making the claim, the size of the estate and the needs of any other beneficiaries.
4. Are there any time limits to bring a claim?
Subject to very limited circumstances, claims must be brought within six months of the date of the grant of probate.
If you are considering challenging a Will, it is important to seek specialist advice as soon as possible. Please contact Helena Taylor or another member of the Private Client Disputes team for further assistance.