The Inheritance (Protection of Family and Dependants) Act 1975 exists to allow dependants who are not provided for out of the estate of a person to whom they are related or on whom they were dependent to claim against the estate in appropriate circumstances.
A recent case considered whether a person who was eligible to make a claim under the Act could contest a will they believed to be forged. The claimant, who had lived with the deceased for several years, would have no claim under the will itself but she could make a claim under the Act and her claim would be more valuable were the deceased to have died intestate.
The will in point left the man’s entire estate to his long-estranged wife and family. It was believed to be forged on the ground that it was alleged to have been executed at his estranged wife’s house at a time when he could not have been there.
The man’s family argued that the claimant could not contest the will as she had no interest in the estate except by way of her claim under the Act. However, Judge Mackie QC held that the right to claim could amount to an interest in the estate for the purposes of challenging the will.
The practical impact of this case is that a will can be challenged in appropriate circumstances by a person whose only interest in the estate is a claim for provision to be made for them out of it. The number of such cases is likely to increase as more and more couples choose to live together without marrying or entering into a civil partnership.