Can I contest a will on the grounds that I'm not included?
Unlike other countries, people in the UK are free to leave their estate to whoever they wish. However, this can result in close family members, or people who were dependent on the deceased, being left out and suffering severe financial hardship.
To remedy these situations, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act was passed in 1975. The Act was intended to provide protection to people who had been financially dependent on the deceased where the will (or the intestacy rules) had not made adequate provision.
The Inheritance Act can assist children, spouses, co-habitees and civil partners. The Inheritance Act can also assist anyone who was being financially supported by the deceased, eg by living in a home which was owned by them.
Under the Inheritance Act dependants can ask the court to make financial provision for them, regardless of what the deceased might have said in their will or what the intestacy rules state.
The court will take into account the needs and resources of the claimant as well as those of any beneficiaries. Other factors which the court will consider are age, the length of any marriage and the parties’ conduct.
Anyone thinking about contesting a will on the grounds that you are not included in it by making an Inheritance Act claim will need to act fast. Very strict time limits apply and court proceedings must be commenced within six months of a grant of representation being made. If you are already out of time however, do not despair. The court does have discretion to allow late Inheritance Act claims, but it is vital to act quickly once you become aware of your right to make an inheritance claim