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A question of a right to claim against an Estate

Q. My best friend has just died.  She had been ill for many years and I gave up my job and my rented flat to go and live with her and look after her.  I was not paid but she always said that she would “see me right” in her Will.  I have now found that she has left all her Estate to her daughter, who she has not seen in over 30 years.  Do I have any sort of claim against the Estate?

A. If the daughter is unwilling to make a provision to you then you are entitled within 6 months of the death to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if you were living in the same household for more than two years prior to the death.

As you were promised an interest in property and you acted detrimentally in response to that promise then you may be protected by the creation of a constructive trust under which the daughter is prevented from stopping you from claiming. The enforcement of that promise depends entirely upon what you were led to expect. You cannot claim more than the assets you know to exist.

By virtue of the fact that you are not a spouse or civil partner of the deceased, the maintenance standard is simply ‘reasonable provision for maintenance only’.

The Court shall balance the services provided by you to the deceased against the contributions made by the deceased. Based on the individual circumstances of the case, the Court may objectively consider that no reasonable financial provision was made by the deceased.

In deciding what provision should be awarded the Court shall have regard to a vast range of factors including your current and future financial needs, as well as those of the daughter beneficiary.

Matthew Sidebottom, partner

*This article was previously published in the Peterborough Telegraph

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