When you are thinking about writing a Will or reviewing your existing Will, you should consider if your Will makes reasonable financial provisions for some categories of people. If it does not do so then your Will might be challenged. That could put your estranged spouse in a Will dispute against your current partner or your children.
At Solomons Solicitors, our Wills and estate planning team can answer your questions on what amounts to reasonable financial provision in a Will to reduce the risk of a claim being made against your estate.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
A Will can be challenged even if it was correctly drawn up and witnessed if:
- The Will did not make reasonable financial provision for a dependant (called an inheritance claim) and
- The dependant falls within one of the classes of people who can bring a claim under the 1975 Act
Who can bring an inheritance claim?
A person is entitled to bring an inheritance claim under the 1975 Act if they are:
- A husband, wife, or civil partner of the deceased
- A former spouse or civil partner of the deceased provided the claimant has not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership
- A child of the deceased (including adult and adopted children)
- A person who was financially maintained by the deceased at the time of the deceased’s death
A divorced spouse cannot bring a 1975 Act claim if the Will maker (testator) secured a clean break financial court order within divorce proceedings to prevent any further financial claims, including claims against their estate.
If you are not sure if you have a clean break financial order, or if you want to obtain one, our family law solicitors can help you.
How to avoid a 1975 Act inheritance claim
No Will and estate planning solicitor can entirely prevent a claimant from making an inheritance claim but they can significantly reduce the risk of a claimant doing so. That is important as otherwise in the most extreme example your executors may be ordered by a court to ignore what is stated in your Will and instead to give all or a share of your estate to a former spouse rather than to your current partner or to your children.
Estate dispute solicitors explain the ways to avoid a 1975 inheritance claim including:
- The use of specialist Will solicitors who can advise you if there are potential inheritance claimants who could make a claim against your estate and advise you on what amount to reasonable financial provision for a potential claimant
- Explaining the provisions in your Will – for example, by writing a separate letter detailing the basis for the legacies in your Will and why you have not left a legacy to a person who could have an inheritance claim
- Creating a discretionary trust in the Will – a discretionary trust, with a wide class of beneficiaries, enables your executors to give money to a potential inheritance claimant to avoid the cost of litigation. The executors can be guided by a letter of wishes
- Reviewing a Will if family circumstances change. For example, if you start to cohabit with a partner or separate from your husband or wife
- Taking out a life insurance policy or making suitable pension nominations – so preferred beneficiaries can have these assets earmarked for them through letters of nomination
The importance of reducing the risks of a 1975 Act claim
Many people think that if they sign a Will then their Will is watertight and cannot be challenged other than on grounds of validity, such as forgery or undue influence. That is not the case. With increasingly complex family dynamics, through the creation of second and third families, there is a growing number of situations where a testator’s Will is at risk of challenge from an inheritance claim.
With the rise in the litigation culture and the risk of your estate being tied up in complicated and lengthy litigation through an inheritance claim, Will and estate planning solicitors say it makes sense to take expert legal advice to save your loved ones and chosen beneficiaries from the emotional and financial hassle of contested court estate dispute proceedings. This can be achieved through a well-written Will that considers and caters to your family circumstances.
Speak to our Bournemouth-based Will Solicitors today
Solomons Solicitors can help you with all your estate planning and Will needs so that you understand your options and you have the legal paperwork you need to provide peace of mind.