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Inheritance Disputes

13 May 2019

Inheritance disputes are on the increase, for a number of reasons. Property is now worth much more; family dynamics and relationships are more complex and lots of people use DIY wills, which can be incorrectly executed.

The Inheritance Act 1975

The aim of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is to offer an additional financial provision for people who have not inherited as a result of intestacy (there is no will); have been left out of a Will entirely, or they have not been left as much as they need.

If the Court are of the view that reasonable financial provision has not been made they can vary the distribution of the deceased’s estate for certain family members and dependents.

Who inherits when there is no will?

If someone dies without a valid will they become intestate, the estate will then be shared out according to the rules of intestacy. This can be a very stressful situation. Hepburn Delaney can help you if a loved one has died without a Will. Our expert Probate Team can advise you on the steps you will need to take.

The rules of Intestacy set out the order of the people who should benefit from the estate of an intestate person:

  1. Spouse/civil Partner
  2. Children/grandchildren
  3. Parents
  4. Brothers/sisters
  5. Grandparents
  6. Uncles and Aunts

The first £250,000 of an estate will pass to the spouse or civil partner; the remaining value will be split between any children; and so on in order of the list above. It is important to note that co-habitants, step children and close friends are not included in the rules of intestacy.

If you would like people close to you to inherit some of your estate it is important for you to seek legal advice when making a Will, that way you can ensure that your money and belongings are distributed in the way that you would like them to be.

In July 2015 the Court of Appeal awarded an estranged daughter £143,000 after her mother left £486,000 to a number of animal charities. (Ilot v Mitson).

Inheritance Disputes are on the increase

There has been an increase in the number of claims under the Inheritance Act. As well as the reasons mentioned above, this is also because there are now a number of step families, and co-habiting couples. People are living longer and family arrangements can now be very complex. A high number of the claims are made by people who were treated as a member of the deceased’s family. In cases of this nature, the court will make a decision based on the financial needs of the claimant as well as looking at the size of the estate and the financial needs of the other beneficiaries.

Our expert team can help you with any questions you have about Wills or inheritance. Please contact us here or call us on 01442 218 090.