The Court of Appeal has refused permission for a surviving spouse to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 nearly six and a half years after a grant of probate was issued in her deceased husband’s estate. The main reason for the refusal was because there was no identifiable trigger for the late claim.
The usual time limit for making family provision claims is six months after a grant is issued, but the court has discretion to allow claims out of time, and has done so before. There is no statutory guidance on the factors that the court should take into account when considering an application for permission to make a late claim, but the parties agreed that HHJ Hayward Smith QC had formulated the correct approach when refusing permission in the High Court.
Of course, cases on this point will turn on their facts. However, this judgment raises general awareness about how important it is to ensure that you protect your loved ones by providing for them in your Will should you want to. By doing so, this will inevitably help avoid family disputes and the cost of court proceedings, as is too often the case.