In the UK, an individual is entitled to leave their estate to whomever they choose. They can leave it to charity, to an individual or put it in a Trust. It is their choice. However, finding out you’ve been left out of a Will can be extremely distressing, both emotionally and, in some cases, financially. The law does provide protection for certain individuals, such as those who are financially dependent on the deceased. In order to challenge a Will, you must have shared a certain relationship with the deceased.
If you have been cut out of a Will you may be able to challenge it under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. However, the conditions for challenging a Will are limited. As only certain individuals can challenge a Will.
To challenge a Will you must be one of the following:
- A spouse or civil partner of the deceased
- A former spouse or civil partner (provided you have not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership)
- Living with the deceased as spouse, cohabitee or civil partner for the two years immediately before the death
- A child of the deceased
- A person who was treated as a ‘child of the family’ of the deceased
- A person being partly or wholly financially dependent on the deceased
For your claim to be successful you must be able to prove that you need the financial assistance of the estate. If you are going to bring a claim, you must do so within 6 months of the Grant of Probate being received. The sooner you make a claim the better.
If you are successful with your claim, it will be up to the Court to decide how much you should receive from the estate. They will take into account factors such as your age, financial needs (now and future), and the size of the estate.
You could also, potentially, bring a claim if you are beneficiary and you have not received your gift under the Will if this was caused by a failure on the part of the Executors. If the Executors have failed or acted unreasonably then you could claim against the estate. If you decide to bring a claim of this nature then you have 12 years from the date of death to do so.
These types of claims can get complicated very quickly so this is a situation where we would strongly advise speaking to a solicitor and doing so quickly.