Who can make a claim against my estate?
It is often believed that once a Will has been made the wishes of the testator must be followed. Yet, there is a key exception to this. Under the Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975, your Will could be challenged by certain groups of people.
A person can make a claim against an estate if they are:
A current spouse or civil partner.
A former spouse or civil partner unless they have since remarried or registered a new civil partnership.
A child (which includes illegitimate, adopted and adult children, and children conceived but not yet born at the time of death)
A sibling and their children (this can include half-blood siblings)
An uncle or aunt and their children (this can include half-blood relatives)
A person who is considered to be a child of the family and who is dependent (this includes a former spouse’s child)
A person who had been maintained or was in some way financially dependent on the deceased during his lifetime.
It is likely that you know at least one person, if not many, who would fall under one of these categories. As such, it is important when estate planning to consider who would likely bring a claim and to take some steps to avoid that from happening.
How much someone could claim depends on who they are. For example, a current spouse would likely receive more than a former spouse. It also depends on the particular circumstances. An adult child would not normally be able to claim unless they could prove that they were financially dependent on the deceased or the deceased made a promise relating to their inheritance.
The ability to make a claim is lost after six months after the date that Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration have been issued.
The question still remains though, how do you prevent someone from claiming against your estate? In reality, there is no definite way of stopping someone from making a claim. However certain steps can be taken to diminish the likelihood of it happening or of it succeeding.
A statement made together with your will can explain your intentions not to provide for certain people. This can help prepare your trustees in defending a potential claim. You may also want to consider leaving a small gift to someone in return for them forfeiting their right to make a claim. It should be noted that it is not possible to legally forfeit a claim but it may be a useful deterrence.
If you are interested in advice on protecting your estate, please don’t hesitate to contact Samuel Jones on 01992 422128.