Inheritance in the UK: How it works and how it affects you

Understanding inheritance, making a claim, and what to do if there’s no will.

Whether you’re planning to write your own will, or you’re looking to seek legal advice regarding the estate of a family member, this article will go over as much as you need to know to get started. Then you will be more informed to work as according to the Inheritance Act of 1975.


The Inheritance Act of 1975

You will benefit from being introduced to this act within the law so that you understand where you will stand with it. Otherwise known as the Provision for Family and Dependants Act, this area of the law allows an individual to claim financial provision from an estate. It will also allow someone to make claims for an estate from someone who is now deceased.

To get close to this estate or financial provision, an individual will need to be an interested party that has a stake involved. In most cases, this will be a surviving spouse or civil partner who will be entitled to the estate in reasonable circumstances, such as if they need it for basic life essentials.

For example, a spouse or civil partner will need to be able to enjoy the same standard of life that they had before their partner’s death. Anything less than this will mean that they can seek financial means through the estate, if they so choose, to seek reparations.

It will not just be a direct partner who can be owed something from an estate thanks to inheritance, but other family members or even friends too. The will is put in place for the deceased to decide who gets what with their estate ahead of time, but sometimes people get left out of a will that they’re entitled to. It’s also possible that the progress of the will be enacted is taking a toll on someone financially.

Inheritance tax

It’s important that before you claim the inheritance that you feel you’re owed, that you know about inheritance tax. This specific type of tax refers to a tax on the estate, which includes the property, money and possessions of someone who has died.

If the estate itself is valued at below the minimum required threshold of £325,000, then there will be no tax paid. Similarly, if you decide to leave everything above the required amount of £325,000 to your partner or charity, then the tax will also be voided.

The standard amount of inheritance tax stands at 40%, changing depending on the value of your estate above the minimum threshold. The tax will be paid towards HM Revenue and Customs, which is also known as HMRC. The executor of a will, the person who deals with the estate, will be the one in charge of paying tax, with the beneficiaries of a will not needing to do so in most cases.

How to make a claim if you need to

If you feel like you need to claim under the Inheritance Act of 1975, then you will need to seek out legal advice. You may feel that you have a claim if you think that the deceased should have left you something of their estate in their will.

You may also believe that the deceased wasn’t fully able to honestly make a correct will in their current mental state, or you may think that they were influenced within their thinking. This could be someone who pressured them or another factor. It’s also possible that no will was created in the first place, which means you will need to claim through the rules of intestacy, which will be covered further in the article.

You will need to have evidence or a reason to make your claim of inheritance. For example, there must be reasons as to why the deceased will have needed to make reasonable financial means for you. Or it may be that the deceased owed you money or promised you that you would be given something. In other cases, it may be that there was something wrong with the will from a legal point of view, which could include legal formalities not followed.

Importance of working with a lawyer

For you to make any claim to do with an inheritance, yours or a family member, then it will be imperative for you to work with a lawyer. Lawyers, in general, will be highly trained within the law to understand what they need to do to help service your needs. This could be for a dispute, or to work per the Inheritance Act of 1975.

This is why you should work with a more specialised lawyer where possible. You should do your research to find a lawyer that has experience working within inheritance and estate law so that you know you will be well looked after.

These specialised solicitors will be able to provide financial advice as well as guide you through your claims. Some firms will even provide free initial consultations to you with no obligation to go further.

Consultations such as that will help them go over how strong your case could be, as well as your chances of getting something out of it. Usually, they will also go over potential price and cost options that will help you understand how much you may need to pay. In some cases, a firm may offer a service where you won’t pay anything unless you win.

Working with lawyers with experience in inheritance claims is paramount to your attempts to get justice and do what’s right. Hugh James understands this, and offer a range of different services with testimonials from previous clients available to browse to see what they’ve managed to do. These professionals can help you through your claim, doing most of the heavy lifting for you.

How to manage an estate without a will

If someone dies without leaving any valid will of any kind, then the property will be distributed according to certain laws of intestacy. You should research all about intestacy so that you understand where you stand within the guidelines of this law. A person who dies before creating a will is known as an intestate person.

Within a state of intestacy, only a married or civil partner alongside other close relatives will be eligible to inherit anything. Likewise, if someone creates a will that is not legally valid, the same rules of intestacy will help to decide how the estate is split, which could ignore certain rules and wishes within the ineligible will.

Close family members that count within intestacy after the priority of a surviving married or civil partner include children or even grandchildren. After that, it will go towards other close relatives such as parents, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews of the deceased. All of this will depend on relevant factors such as other surviving priority family members, as well as what happens if there is no family at all.

If there are no surviving members who can inherit the estate under the law of intestacy, then the estate will move on to the Crown. This stage is also known as bona vacantia, where a treasury solicitor will come to deal with it. An estate may be rearranged for being shared out later on, or you can seek a grant from the estate if you feel as if you have a claim. You may need legal advice for this stage.