Contesting your inheritance - Willans LLP solicitors

Contesting your inheritance

If you feel that you have been unfairly left out of someone’s will, or if the will or the rules of intestacy do not properly provide for you, you may be able to claim under the ‘1975 Act’ (the full legal term for this is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975).

Alternatively, if you’re the one facing the claim, we can help you to defend this, too.

Watch the video below or read on for more information. If you'd like to discuss your situation with us, please call on 01242 514000 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Can I make a claim under the 1975 Act?

You may be able to make a claim if…

  • you’re an immediate family member of the person who has died (such as their spouse/child)
  • the person who has died stood in a role of parent to you
  • you depended financially on someone before they died.

These are just some examples, and not an exhaustive list.

What do I need to prove?

You’ll only be able to claim if you can show that the person’s will (or if they didn’t make a will, the rules that govern what happens to their estate) doesn’t support you properly, given the financial support that person gave you in their lifetime.

Lawyers call this ‘reasonable financial provision’. The level of financial support that you can expect to receive from the estate depends on lots of facts. Your solicitor will look at all of the circumstances, including how much the estate is worth, and how your needs compare to those of the other people set to benefit from the estate.

We’ll need some information from you to help us work out whether you’re likely to be able to make a successful claim.

What orders can the court make?

Depending on what you are claiming for and whether it’s successful, the court has the ability to do things like redistribute the estate, award payment of a lump sum, create a trust for your benefit or transfer property to you. Of course, the outcome depends on the individual facts of your case, and we’ll discuss this clearly with you from the beginning.

When should I make a claim?

If you think you might have a claim, there’s no time to waste. Under the rules, you only have 6 months to apply from when the person administering the estate gets the Grant of Representation. If you don’t make this deadline, it will be more difficult to make a claim albeit not impossible if you can show exceptional circumstances.

Challenging broken promises 

If you have been promised a gift or other property from the person that has died, and this hasn’t been reflected in their will, you may still be able to make a claim for it.

This is called proprietary estoppel, and it is the legal phrase for what most people will see as a ‘broken promise’.

To make a claim, you’ll need to show that you were promised this property, that you relied on the promise being kept, and that you’d be disadvantaged if the promise isn’t kept.

It’s up to the court whether they give you all or some of the property, or whether they compensate you from other parts of the estate.

We can help you to bring or defend claims like these.


If you'd like to discuss your situation with us, please call on 01242 514000 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Why choose Willans?

For you to achieve the best possible outcome, you’ll need people with the best possible credentials and expertise Our Legal 500-rated team includes members of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) and ACTAPS (the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists), experts who are, by definition, the most experienced and senior practitioners in the field of trusts and estates and related disputes.

Independent legal guide The Legal 500 says in their 2018 edition that our contentious probate team is “excellent in all aspects: almost immediate response times, with in-depth knowledge and experience.”

Legal awards and credentials aside, we’re a friendly team and will always explain things to you in a clear and practical way, and keep you updated on what’s happening with your case in a timely way.

Respecting relationships

Every case is different: while some require a robust approach, disputes of this sort are often extremely sensitive, many involving family relationships. Our experienced lawyers approach matters in an understanding, practical and sympathetic way.

An eye to cost

The court's approach to costs in cases of this type tends to differ from other litigation. We do everything possible to protect your position, ensuring that cases are resolved taking account of costs and the value of the estate.

Early resolution

We will often recommend the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as an effective means of achieving an early resolution. In cases of this nature, opposing parties will often resist settling until the alternative is made very clear to them. We have a tremendous success rate with ADR and have two accredited mediators in our team.


For advice, please call on 01242 514000 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Contact us

Please call 01242 514000 or contact one of the lawyers in our inheritance and trust disputes team:

Paul Gordon LLB

Rachel Sugden LLB (Hons)

Nick Southwell BA (Hons)

Katie Duthie LLB (Hons)

"Willans LLP is ‘excellent in all aspects: almost immediate response times, with in-depth knowledge and experience.'"

Katie Duthie

Nick Southwell

Paul Gordon