/ 16 Jun 2022

What to consider when making an Inheritance Act Claim

The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 allows certain categories of applicant to bring a claim against an estate of a deceased person where ‘reasonable financial provision’ has not been made for them under the terms of the will or on the intestacy of that deceased person.

This article follows the recent case of Diana Dale-Gough and her claim against her step-children, and looks into the key points you need to consider before making an Inheritance Act Claim.

Rajinder Rai

Senior Associate & Accredited Mediator

Private Client

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What happened in Diana Dale-Gough’s Inheritance Act Claim?

 

Defeated, ex UKIP counsellor Diana Dale-Gough lost her Claim against her step children in 2020, when she tried to claim that reasonable financial provision had not been made for her in her late husband’s Will. She had been left a life interest to stay in his house valued at £800,000, but that was conditional on its sale (either when she moved out or gave consent), when half of it would pass to her and the other half to his children.

However, having lost her case in 2020, she was left with a debt of £100,000 to pay her step children in legal costs. Having failed to discharge that debt, they sought for her home to be sold so that her debt could be paid, and the step children could receive their share of the inheritance on its sale – and the Judge allowed it. 

 

Why did Diana Dale-Gough have to sell her home?

Not only so that the debt could be paid to the step children, but the Judge commented she had brought the situation upon herself given her conduct in the case. She had failed to cooperate during the proceedings; failed to co-operate in the sale of the house, and failed to mitigate her position even after her court proceedings had been struck out in 2020.

 

What are the points you need to consider before making an Inheritance Act Claim?

Whilst Diana was entitled – in principle – to make a Claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, that in itself did not mean that she had merits to do so. Clearly her husband wanted her to live there for her lifetime but conditionally, with an intention that the house would be eventually sold so that his children received their share of it.

 

Factor 1 – Do you have merits to make a claim?

Just because you are entitled in principle to make a Claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, does not mean you have merits to do so. The courts have to consider a number of factors before it arrives at a decision that may be favourable to you. 

Factor 2 – Have you considered adopting any methods of “alternative dispute resolution”?

Quite often, Inheritance Act claims settle between parties without any court proceedings being required. In some cases, considering alternatives to resolving the dispute, such as mediation, can save time, cost, and the stress of waiting for a court to make a decision. Our team will be able to discuss whether this may be the right option for you. 

Factor 3 – Have you considered legal costs?

Consider the possibility that you may lose the Claim and what the potential legal costs could be if you had to pay your opponent(s) costs as well.

Factor 4 – Expert legal representation is vital

If you feel you have a claim, you should seek legal advice as early as possible to give due consideration to your case as against your opponent’s, adopting the factors that a court will look at in matters such as these.

 

How can Hanne & Co help?

 

Whether there is a Will or not, you may be able to make a Claim. Contact Rajinder Rai today for a free consultation in relation to pursuing or defending a Claim, or if you wish to explore mediation. 

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