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If you are a disappointed beneficiary of a will or an intestacy and you want to recover financial provision from the deceased’s estate, then you may be able to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“Inheritance Act”).

However, there are strict time limits you must adhere to, and you are required by legislation to issue a claim in court within six months of the Grant of Probate being obtained. Failure to do so may invalidate your claim.

While it is sometimes possible to issue a claim after the six-month deadline, the court must be satisfied that you have a valid reason for the delay.

The court’s discretion to grant permission to bring an Inheritance Act claim out of time.

The court has discretion as to whether permission should be granted to allow a disappointed beneficiary to bring an Inheritance Act claim outside of the six-month deadline.

The 2013 case of Berger -v- Berger provides the court with useful guidance and sets out a list of factors that can be considered by a judge when exercising discretion, including whether:

  1. The exercise of the court’s discretion is seen as right and proper;
  2. The would-be claimant has explained sufficiently why the claim was brought out of time;
  3. The would-be claimant acted promptly;
  4. Negotiations were underway within the time limit;
  5. The estate has yet been distributed and whether the defendants know of the claim;
  6. The dismissal of the claim would leave the would-be claimant without any other remedy; and
  7. The would-be claimant has an arguable case to succeed.

Pursuing an Inheritance Act claim

If you wish to pursue a claim under the Inheritance Act, you must do so swiftly.

The time limits imposed by statute are important and having to rely upon the court’s discretion to bring the claim can be more costly, time-consuming and does not guarantee a favourable outcome.

If you think you have a possible claim under the Inheritance Act, you should seek expert legal advice as soon as possible. Prompt instruction increases the chances of being able to resolve your claim without the need to issue any court proceedings.



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