Inheritance Act Claims – Archibald v Stewart & Another

Flexible Reversionary Trust

The Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (Inheritance Act) permits particular individuals to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from a deceased person’s estate. They are:

1. The spouse or civil partner of the deceased;

2. A former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased, but not one who has formed a subsequent marriage or civil partnership;

3.  A child of the deceased;

4. Any person (not being a child of the deceased) who in relation to any marriage or civil partnership to which the deceased was at any time a party, or otherwise in relation to any family in which the deceased at any time stood in the role of a parent, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family;

5. Any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased; or

6. A person who, during the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died, was living in the same household as the deceased and as if that person and the deceased were a married couple or civil partners.

Inheritance Act claims should be brought within 6 months of the grant of probate or letters of administration being taken out.

Where applications are made by persons who were not the deceased’s spouse they are limited to reasonable financial provision for their maintenance.

Archibald v Stewart & Another – Case background

In the recent case, Archibald v Stewart & Another, Neil and his wife, Julie, made a claim for reasonable financial provision from Neil’s parents’ estates. Soon after issuing the claim, Neil died. This case posed three issues:

  1. Did Neil’s claim still stand after his death?
  2. Could Julie make a claim?
  3. Whether or not the claims could be made out of time?

1. Did Neil’s claim still stand after his death?

The issue here was whether Neil’s estate could pursue the claim after he had died. It was held that the claim could not be pursued. This was because as Neil had died, he nor his estate had any reason to apply for reasonable financial provision for his maintenance.

2. Could Julie make a claim under section 1 of the Inheritance Act?

Julie sought to rely on section 1(1)(d) of the Inheritance Act which states the person applying under this provision was treated by the deceased as a child of the family. It was held that there was insufficient evidence to show that Julie was treated as a child of the family and as such her claim failed.

3. Whether or not the claims could be made out of time?

Inheritance Act claims must be brought within 6 months of the grant of probate or letters of administration being taken out. However, judges have the power under section 4 of the Inheritance Act to allow an out-of-time application to proceed. The judge did not exercise this power in this case and held the applications were out of time however and should be dismissed.

Conclusion

This case serves as an example of the limits of the Inheritance Act and what may happen if applicants try to work around them. If you do wish to take advice about a claim under the Act please do not hesitate to contact our team of experts.

How can we help?Inheritance Act Claim

Amrik Basra is a Trainee Solicitor in our Private Litigation team.

At Nelsons, our team specialises in these types of disputes and includes members of The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). The team is also recommended by the independently researched publication, The Legal 500, as one of the top teams of specialists in the country.

If you have concerns about the validity of a Will, please contact Amrik or a member of our expert Dispute Resolution team in DerbyLeicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.

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