Inheritance after divorce: Can I make an inheritance claim against my ex?
This article focuses upon the claims of former spouses and civil partners. We deal with the inheritance rights of married couples in a separate article which you can find here and in another article we outline the inheritance rights of unmarried couples which you can read here.
Can a former spouse make an inheritance claim against their ex?
The short answer is yes. A common misconception is that once you divorce, you are no longer able to bring an inheritance claim against your ex’s estate when they die. However, a divorcee remains eligible to bring an inheritance claim against their ex wife’s or ex husband’s estate, provided they have not remarried.
Claims are often made where ongoing financial support has been provided by the ex wife or ex husband as part of the divorce settlement and that support ends on their death.
The Inheritance Act offers protection even if a couple have started divorce proceedings or completed their divorce years prior to the death.
What if the right to make an inheritance claim is specifically prohibited in the divorce settlement?
Divorce orders often include a restriction that prevents the former spouse making a claim under the Inheritance Act. However, these restrictions are only effective if the right wording has been used. So even where the right to claim inheritance after divorce has been included in a court order it may still be possible to bring a claim. And as explained below, a claim can sometimes still be made even where the restriction is effective. It is therefore crucial to take advice from an inheritance law expert.
What if I live with my ex again after divorce?
It is not uncommon for people to reconcile with their ex after divorce and resume living together. What happens if they never remarry but one of them dies?
In addition to making an inheritance claim as an ex spouse, the surviving partner may also be able to claim as a cohabitee or dependant. The right to claim as a cohabitee or dependant remains even where there is an effective restriction in the divorce order preventing an inheritance claim being made.
The complexity of these legal principles does mean that you should seek advice from specialist inheritance solicitors, as some generalist lawyers will not appreciate the extent to which you may still have a claim against the estate of your ex husband or ex wife.
How we can help with inheritance after divorce claims
To obtain more detailed guidance on inheritance after divorce and whether you have a claim against your ex’s estate under the Inheritance Act then call one of our specialist inheritance team on our free legal helpline of 0333 888 0404 or send details of your case to us at [email protected]
We can often deal with Inheritance Act claims on a No Win, No Fee basis and can discuss this with you in more detail as part of the free case assessment service.