Claiming a Deceased Person’s Estate

As of today, there are 9197 assets that are lying unclaimed in the UK. If you are of the opinion that you deserve to inherit a deceased’s estate or any such unclaimed asset, then this guide will acquaint you with what you should take into consideration before proceeding with your claim.

Finding out if you have a Claim

When a person dies intestate, the intestacy laws of the UK govern the distribution of the deceased’s assets. The verdict of the judiciary in such cases often leaves certain relatives wondering whether they have been given their rightful share or not.

If you believe that you were a close relative or shared such a relationship with the deceased that demands a greater share of inheritance, then there are provisions in place to help you claim back what is rightfully yours.

In order for you to have a valid claim you must belong to any one of the following categories that have been set out in the 1975 Inheritance Act, which defines whether or not your claim will be upheld:

  • You are the civil partner or spouse of the deceased.
  • You are a former civil partner or spouse of the deceased but haven’t formed a new civil partnership or marriage since the split.
  • You are a child of the person who has passed away.
  • You weren’t a child of the deceased by birth but the deceased person, as long as he or she was alive, treated you like a child of the family.
  • You were being maintained, partially or wholly, by the deceased before their death.

Acceptance of a Claim

Once the appeal is accepted, the case is presented before a judge. If your claim is found to have merit, the court will decide whether sufficient provisions were made for you by the estate. If the court decides that you have not been dealt with following the deceased death fairly, it will consider what financial provisions should be provided.

A successful claim will entitle you to a capital sum or maintenance  which depends almost entirely on the existence of other beneficiaries and the size of the estate. If you are a spouse or civil partner of the deceased, you will be entitled to a share that is greater than the relatively simple sum of maintenance.

If you belong to the other classes of applicant, the court will decide, based on the circumstances, what your share should be in the estate.

Calculating the amount of share that you have in an estate can be a complicated procedure. What adds to the complexity is the entitlement of each of the beneficiaries and their willingness to give you the share you believe you deserve. Negotiations in such matters should be held sensibly owing to the sensitive nature of the appeal.

It is possible that you may have to deal with the personal representatives of the estate who may also be the family members of the deceased. After all, the last thing that a grieving family would expect in these times is a legal battle ahead of them.

Examples of Claims

You can only belong to the last category if the deceased had been making regular and substantial contributions towards fulfilling your reasonable needs. Due to the lack of clarity regarding the kind of individuals that fall into this category, there have been many court cases and legal battles.

Let us take the following two examples to gain a better understanding of the type of dependants who have been granted their rightful share by the court.

First Case Study

The first example is of a mother who had taken extensive care of her disabled child. For the purpose of making a claim against the child’s estate, the mother was declared as being maintained by her child at the time of its death. In 2002, the Court of Protection made the necessary financial provisions and the mother received her due benefits.

Second Case Study

The second case goes back to 2009 which involves the famous sculptress Mary Spencer Watson. She had been living in a house in her name with Margot Baynes as her partner and Hetty, who was Margot’s child. Mary had left behind her estate to a charity and a residue of the legacy to Margot. Hetty applied to the court on the grounds that she was being maintained by Mary and therefore deserved a share of the inheritance. The court however, rejected her claim citing that Mary reserved the right to decide who should benefit from her estate.

The above case studies perfectly illustrate how having a Will in place can protect the wishes and also the estate of the deceased. Writing a Will ensures that the distribution of your hard earned wealth takes place exactly according to how you would have desired it.

To write your Will, get in touch with Legacy Wills today.

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