Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, a will can be challenged if the deceased failed to provide reasonable financial provision for a spouse, cohabitee, dependant or child. Where a claim is upheld, the beneficiaries named in the will receive less than they were originally bequeathed.
A well-drafted will and a ‘statement of reasons’ can often help to avoid claims under the act or help to defend such a claim in court. A statement of reasons should be carefully drafted by the practitioner, and signed by the testator.
Litigation of this sort is becoming more prevalent partly due to ‘no win no fee’ agreements and peoples increasing financial needs. Where a claim is brought even if ultimately no award is made the administration of an estate can be delayed by up to three years. It is therefore essential where any potential claimants are being exclude by Will that a statement be prepared to help prevent any future litigation.