Blog: Claiming against an estate after death

Following a death, relatives and dependents can contest a Will by going to court.

There is no requirement for any person to be provided for in a Will. But if someone you depend on dies, and they haven’t left you either a) anything, or b) enough to get by on, you may be able to challenge the Will.

If there is no Will, you may be able to bring a claim under intestacy rules.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 can be used in cases of hardship, and can sometimes be used to argue a moral obligation to be supported by the estate of the deceased.

You may be able to bring a claim if you are/ were:

  • The spouse/ former spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  • Someone cohabiting with the deceased but not married for at least 2 years;
  • A child, or someone treated as a child of the deceased;
  • Financially dependent upon the deceased.

For each of the categories above, there are different criteria the court will consider.

  • To establish financial dependency you will need to prove either that you were entirely dependent upon the deceased, or that the deceased made a significant contribution to you (not quite as simple as it sounds);
  • Spouses or civil partners will be looked at differently by the court. The court will consider:
    • Your age;
    • Any children you are responsible for;
    • Your contribution to the family;
    • The length of your relationship;
    • Any time when you were separated from the deceased;
    • What you could realistically have expected to get in a divorce settlement;

If you decide to make a claim, your time is limited. A claim MUST be made within six months after probate.

The court will sometimes extend this period, but will need persuading to do so.