Can a dependant make an inheritance claim?
Anyone who was ‘financially dependant’ upon a person that has died without making provision for them in their Will (or who would benefit under the intestacy rules if there is no Will) is entitled to make an Inheritance Act claim.
Who is a ‘Financial Dependant’ under the Inheritance Act?
A Financial Dependant is defined in the Inheritance Act as someone:
“who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased.”
It is therefore often considered the “catch-all category” enabling people to make a claim under the Inheritance Act if they don’t qualify under the other categories: spouse, civil partner, former spouse/civil partner, cohabitee, child or child of the family.
You can also claim under other categories and many people therefore use the ‘financial dependant’ category as a “back up” claim, just in case there is a problem with the main claim, such as when a partner’s cohabiting arrangements were unusual or possibly briefer than the 2 year period.
Does the dependant need to be related to the deceased?
No. The claimant does not need to be related to the deceased to succeed on a claim as a financial dependant. This category can therefore help grandchildren, lodgers, carers, friends and wider family members, who were being maintained.
What does “being maintained” mean?
It will be “maintenance” if the deceased was making a substantial financial contribution on a non-commercial basis.
This would include regular financial support on a weekly, monthly or annual basis, as well as more occasional contributions if they were significant enough.
It also includes financially valuable benefits as well as money. This covers things like allowing someone to live rent-free.
It does not however include people like carers who are being paid at a full market rate for their services. Carers who are not being paid full market rate, or unpaid carers, will still be able to qualify as a financial dependant if they were receiving more from the deceased by way of maintenance than they were giving in care.
Anyone who is uncertain whether they were “being maintained’ should take specialist legal advice.
How much can I claim?
Once it is established that you qualify as a financial dependant then we must consider whether ‘reasonable financial provision’ has been made for you from the estate. If it hasn’t then we will need to assess what ‘reasonable financial provision’ should now be made for you.
Various factors are considered when assessing “reasonable financial provision”, including your financial needs and resources, medical position and any promises made by the deceased for you to receive an inheritance from the estate.
The value of your dependency on the deceased is also important, as is how long it would be reasonable for the deceased’s estate to continue to maintain you.
You will need specialist advice on what ‘reasonable financial provision’ looks like for you personally.
How we can help
So if you would like to know, ‘Can a dependant make an inheritance claim?’ and are looking for an idea of the kind of provision you can expect to recover, then call our specialist inheritance team on our free legal helpline 0333 888 0404 or send details of your case to us at [email protected]
We can often offer a range of funding options for Inheritance Act claims, including No Win, No Fee, which we can discuss in more detail as part of a free case assessment.