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Posted on: 24 November 2013 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors
If a person dies without having set out the division of assets in their Will, then there is a
large scope for the courts to decide how any assets are distributed amongst relatives. If a party feels that the deceased has not given them reasonable financial provision under their Will, then an Inheritance Act claim can be made. There is no set way that the courts decide the division of assets, as each case is unique and there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account when arranging the distribution of assets.
When somebody dies, their estate usually falls under the control of ‘Personal Representatives’ – these people are appointed to oversee the day to day management of the deceased’s estate. They are responsible for the distribution of any assets in accordance with the Will of the deceased, or if there is no Will, the assets will be divided according to the laws of Intestacy.
There are only certain people allowed to apply for an order from the courts under the Inheritance Act 1975. These people are: the immediate family of the deceased, or their husband or wife (or partner if living in a civil partnership). Any applicant must prove that the deceased were permanently based in England or Wales, or ‘domiciled’ there. After the Personal Representatives have obtained a grant of probate, which allows them to represent the estate of the deceased, any application for an order must be made within 6 months by the applicant. After six months, special permission must be granted by the court to allow proceedings to begin. This permission is rarely granted, usually only given in exceptional circumstances.
Proceedings for any claims under the Inheritance Act are governed by Civil Procedure Rules. This is to ensure proceedings go as efficiently as possible, and there are no unnecessary legal costs. When proceedings are issued, a claim form is sent to the court, where a preliminary hearing will be arranged, where any evidence or documentation can be filed that may be relevant. A following hearing may be scheduled, to allow judges and parties to check that all rules and court-given directions have been followed. As mentioned before, all cases are individual, and the timescales of these hearings will differ depending on the nature of your proceedings. If parties have failed to reach an agreement, a final hearing may be listed. This will require all parties to give evidence, after which the judge will decide whether an order will be made.
Making an Inheritance Act claim will incur legal costs for all parties involved, however these costs should be met by the financial provision that parties have agreed to receive from the Will.
Here at Goodwins Family Law, our vast experience in all areas of family law makes us one of the leading family law practices in London. If you choose Goodwins Family Law to assist you with an Inheritance Act claim, you will benefit from expert advice that is honest and realistic, whilst maintaining total discretion and sensitivity. To find out more information, get in touch with us today by phone, email or via our website contact form and we’ll be happy to help.
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