Q&A - Can I contest my partner’s Will?

31/08/2015

Q: When my partner died recently, I expected to be able to remain in the home we had shared for nine years. He always said he intended to leave the house to his daughter, as it was the family home where she grew up, but he also said the necessary arrangements would be made for me to live out my life there. Now his daughter is saying there is no provision for me in the Will and I will have to leave the house, so that she can sell it. I have nowhere to go and no money to go with. Can I contest the Will?

A: Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 you may be able to contest your partner’s Will. There are six categories of persons who can make a claim:  a spouse of the deceased; a former spouse of the deceased, provided that person has not remarried; a partner who lived with the deceased for at least two years immediately prior to the deceased passing away; a child of the deceased; someone who was treated as a child of the family by the deceased; and someone who was supported financially by the deceased, ether wholly or in part. 

You would appear to qualify but a great deal more information will be required as the Court will only do the minimum to do justice to your reasonable needs. A lot of disputes about Wills are settled through mediation and negotiation however, without the need to go to Court. As well as being more cost-effective this can also minimise the impact on family relationships in a dispute. If this does not work, formal Court proceedings can be issued, but either way, claims generally need to be made within six months of probate being issued so it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.