Can Intestacy Rules Be Challenged?

In most situations the law is fairly clear: if you die without leaving a legal and valid will your estate will be divided according to the rules of Intestacy – however in certain circumstances some people might be able to make a claim for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This situation is usually only available to people who are financially dependent upon the deceased or in the case of co-habiting partners (people who live together but are not formally married or in a civil partnership).

The opportunity to challenge the law on this basis is complicated and would need the assistance of a solicitor.

Another possibility is the ‘deed of variation’ or ‘deed of family arrangement’. These deeds need to be applied for within two years of the death and essentially serve to share out the estate in a way that seems fairer than the rules of intestacy. Both are agreements between all of those who would have benefitted under the rules of intestacy to share or distribute the estate in a different way, or perhaps to change the proportions of who receives what. It also gives the opportunity for those who would have missed out on receiving anything to be included within the distribution, so long as all other parties agree upon their inclusion.

Another situation can occur if someone has been left out of a will and believes that they should have been left with ‘reasonable financial provision’. They can make a claim under the Inheritance Act to receive a proportion of the estate, however this only applies to people within certain categories: the husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased, a partner who lived with the deceased for at least two years before the death, or a child of the deceased. The only other grounds on which a will can be contested comes down to the validity of the will.

In all of the above situations you would need the assistance of a solicitor – these are not tasks that can be undertaken by an amateur.

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