Bartletts Solicitors has seen a growth in the number of inheritance claims in recent years – but just what has triggered this rise?
“Claims are brought under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, which makes financial provision for those who have not been adequately provided for when someone has passed away. This might involve estates where there is a Will or on intestacy (where there is no Will). We have definitely seen an increase in these types of claims, especially during the past few years,” says Nina Sperring, Solicitor from the Hoole office of Bartletts Solicitors.
“This increase is likely because of the complexity of the law and the fact reasonable financial provision rulings are not solely about money. Whether the reason is having been disinherited, a family dispute, or an unexpected inheritance, when someone feels a loved one’s Will is not right they may decide to make a claim under the Act.
“In our experience, it’s important to seek professional legal advice in the first place, to ensure a Will is properly worded as well as legally watertight, and to seek advice should you ever want to make an inheritance claim.”
High Profile Inheritance Claim Case
“The Ilott v Mitson case is often cited when it comes to making an inheritance claim and whilst it is not ground-breaking - as it simply applies long-standing principles - it is unique on it’s facts. It is also relevant as it highlights the range of cases covered by the Act – nothing is straightforward when it comes to inheritance matters and this was the first time a case under the Act has been heard by the Supreme Court,” says Nina Sperring.
The estranged daughter, Heather Ilott, challenged the Will left by her mother, Melita Jackson, who died in 2004 and left her almost £500,000 estate to three animal charities.
The court battle has been ongoing since 2004. A judge initially made an award to Mrs Ilott before this decision was subsequently appealed and the Court of Appeal ruled to increase the award to the daughter, to a third of the mother’s estate. The charities have since been granted permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and final judgement is expected in 2017.
Nina Sperring adds: “The court’s decision will definitely have an impact on future claims made under the 1975 Inheritance Act – whichever way the ruling goes. The judgement is expected in the early part of this year so we wait with anticipation to see what the final decision is.”
Making An Inheritance Claim
Nina Sperring adds: “The Ilott v Mitson case is fascinating because the estranged daughter, Mrs Ilott, was not only cut out of her mother’s Will but her mother, Mrs Jackson, had specifically stated in her Will that her decision was not to be challenged by Mrs Ilott.The daughter has however been able to challenge the terms of her mother’s Will despite all of this.
“At this stage, we can’t say what the final decision by the Supreme Court will be, but one thing we do know is the decision will affect future claims made under the Act.
“Here at Bartletts, we have handled inheritance claims of every level of complexity and always provide each client with legal advice that is relevant for his or her situation. When the law is as complex as it is, you need to focus purely on the individual circumstances to make sure the case is fought for that person alone – there is no one-approach-works-for-all when it comes to inheritance claims.
“If you’re considering making a claim under the 1975 Act, whether because you’ve been excluded from a Will, received less than what is deemed reasonable financial provision according to the rules of intestacy or dislike how the Will was made, we’d strongly recommend you speak to your solicitor first who will be able to advise you and provide you with the necessary support throughout your case should you decide to pursue your claim.”
For free and impartial legal advice regarding your situation, please contact Nina Sperring in person at Bartletts Solicitors Incorporating Matthew Lewis, Martins Bank Chambers, 31 Hoole Road, Chester CH2 3NF or call her on 01244 311 633 or freephone 0800 988 3674, or email firstname.lastname@example.org