Friday, 8 March 2019

Act fast on inheritance claims

Disgruntled relatives who feel they have missed out on an inheritance only have a short time to make a claim, a Shropshire solicitor has warned.

Sara Brumwell, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, is an associate of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate (ACTAPS), and she said claims must be issued by the courts or settled within six months of probate being granted after someone dies.

“This is really a very short period for potential claimants to take advice and start the claims process, so it’s vital that anyone who feels they have missed out should move as quickly as possible.”

Sara said only certain categories of people were permitted to bring a claim against the estate of someone who had died if they felt ‘reasonable financial provision’ had not been made for them.

“Under The Inheritance Act, you can bring a claim if you are the spouse or civil partner of the person who has died, or if you are the former spouse or civil partner – as long as you haven’t remarried or entered into another civil partnership.

“You can make a claim if you’re the child of the deceased, or if you were treated by them as a child of the family through marriage or a civil partnership.

“And if you were living with the deceased as ‘husband or wife’ or as a civil partner for two years before they died, or if they were supporting you at the time of their death, you would also qualify to launch a claim.”

Sara said the Court did have the power to extend the six month time limit, but only in limited circumstances.

The Inheritance Act only applies to the estates of people who were living in England and Wales when they died, and not to any other parts of the UK, but the country where the claimant lives is not relevant.

Sara said: “As the process of launching an Inheritance Act claim is subject to such tight time limits, in most cases a claim is issued to prevent a technical timeout – but very few claims actually make it to trial, with most being settled by negotiation or mediation.

“But for anyone who feels they may have a claim, it’s important to take advice from a contested probate specialist as soon as possible otherwise you could miss out altogether.”