Many legal claims including claims for property or breach of contract can survive the death of a claimant. This means a claimant’s estate can sometimes continue a claim, even after the claimant has passed away.
However, in February 2017, the High Court ruled that such claims do not include claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
When 1975 Act claims are brought, a court has the power to award finance or property to a claimant from an estate if the existing provision made to the claimant under the deceased’s will or the rules of intestacy is considered to be inadequate.
In Roberts v Fresco (2017 EWHC 283 Ch) the court heard that a widow had been left £150,000 from his deceased wife’s estate – itself worth a substantial £17m.
Unfortunately for the claimant-widow, he passed away before he could bring what may have been a strong 1975 Act claim for a significant sum of money.
Following the widow’s death, his daughters picked up the mantle and on their late father’s behalf, brought his 1975 Act claim to the High Court. In response, the court decided that 1975 Act claims cannot survive claimants, which meant the widow’s claim fell away, when he died.
This decision means claimants should act without delay – indeed this is not the only reason to do so: save for some very narrow exceptions, 1975 Act claims in any event must be issued within 6 months of probate being granted.
rhw specialise in disputes regarding inheritance. If you require advice about bringing or defending a claim, we would be glad to assist you.