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Challenging A Will Just Got Easier!

Many people think that once a Will is made it cannot be changed, unless there is a fraud! But, that is not so. The Court has long had the power to change a Will, if it does not make what the Court believes is proper provision for certain types of people.

From 1st October 2014 the law changed and, as a result, making claims will be easier.

The changes are fairly technical, but the key changes can be summarised as follows.

Firstly, it used to be the case that no claim could be made until a Grant of Probate/Administration had been taken out. This meant that sometimes executors who thought a claim might be made, would delay getting a Grant, hoping the Claimant might give up. A Claimant could make an application to Court to force a Grant to be taken - but that would cost time and money, and reduce the estate to the detriment of all. Now this requirement has been swept away, and that delaying tactic cannot be used.

Also helpful to Claimants is a relaxation of the six month time limit for making a claim against a part of the deceased's assets which fall outside the estate (often a shared house).

The new rules recognise the way in which the once standard family of Mum, Dad and 2.4 children is less of a norm. They extend the categories of people who can claim, to include people treated as a child of the deceased: this is expected to apply particularly where grandchildren want to make claims. The law also extends to a Claimant who had a parent-child type relationship in any family in which the deceased was involved - which may well apply where the deceased had more than one family (eg following a divorce and remarriage or the end of one cohabiting relationship and the start of another)

For those who claim to have been maintained by the deceased the new rules again make helpful changes: previously the Court was asked to undertake a balancing exercise of who brought what into the common pot. Now that is removed - and the Claimant need only show that the deceased had been making a substantial contribution towards their reasonable needs.

Further technical changes about how maintenance is to be assessed have also been made.

Inheritance Act Claims are likely to increase as more people will be able to show the Court that they have needs which should be met from the assets of the deceased. These changes reflect changes to society as family relationships become more complex. They also show that the obligations the state expects parties to shoulder for wider family members is increasing.

If you have believe that you have been unfairly treated in a will (or where no will has been left and the deceased died intestate) then Clough & Willis will be pleased to offer advice contact us on 0800 083 0815