You can choose who will inherit, but ...
In some countries, the law imposes forced heirship. This broadly means that the laws of that country prevent someone from giving parts of their estate (such as real property) to anyone but to whom the law allows.
In England and Wales, the law recognises that a person making a Will should have the freedom to choose what happens to their property when they die. However, the law also recognises that sometimes people have responsibilities to others and that as a result, if a person’s Will was followed exactly or if they died without a Will, an injustice can arise.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is intended to prevent that injustice by allowing the court to intervene and make an order for reasonable financial provision. In short, it enables the Court to consider the financial circumstances of all of the people interested or affected by the death of someone, including the beneficiaries, the person applying for reasonable financial provision and other people who may also be entitled to apply for financial provision.
The people entitled to apply for such a court order are:-
- the spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
- a former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased who has not entered into a subsequent marriage or civil partnership;
- a person who has been living in the same household as the deceased for two years as husband and wife or as civil partners, even if not formally married;
- a child of the deceased;
- a person who was treated as a child of the deceased (e.g. an adopted child); and
- any person who immediately before the death was being maintained by the deceased.
Claims under the Act must be brought within 6 months of the date of the grant of probate or letters of administration. With this in mind it is very important to act quickly in considering whether or not you have such a claim and to consult a solicitor who will be able to advise you about such a claim.
Cunningtons can advise you in respect of claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
If you require further information as to how we may help you resolve your dispute or to bring or defend a claim please click here to email us and provide brief details of your problem and we will contact you to discuss whether we can help you and, if so, how.