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Inheritance disputes – can I get interim payments to help me during my claim?

For those who feel they have not been fairly provided for in a loved one's Will, the prospect of bringing a long and potentially costly claim under the Inheritance Act can be a daunting one.

When there is a dispute over someone's estate, inevitably it takes even more time than usual to release funds. This can be particularly difficult for someone who was financially reliant on the deceased and who suddenly finds themselves without enough money to pay their bills.

A recent High Court case shows that an application for interim payments - to ease the immediate financial pressure while the often slow process of making a claim takes its course - can succeed in certain circumstances.

Judge, Mr Justice Francis, in the recent case of Weisz v Weisz & Others (2019), granted interim payments of £5,200 per month to widow Sarah Weisz until the case is finally settled as well as an award of £55,587 to cover her legal fees.

All the payments will come from the £4 million estate of Mrs Weisz's late husband. This includes a further £9,000 a month for two months following a hearing this spring to give Mrs Weisz time to make a further application for more interim payments if necessary.

What happened in this case?

Sarah Weisz brought a claim for interim financial provision from her late husband's estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, pending the resolution of her full claim.

She had married her husband in 2005. She had two children from a previous marriage and her husband had three, all of whom had apparently got on well until Mrs Weisz brought her claim.

Her late husband's Will, made in 2017, left her his share of the matrimonial home but made no other significant financial provision for her.

Who can get an interim payment?

To succeed in an application for interim financial provision, under section 5 of the Inheritance Act (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the claimant must be able to show they are in 'immediate need of financial assistance'.

In addition, as the court will decide whether 'immediate need' has been demonstrated on a case by case basis, the claimant must have what is considered a strong claim to provision from the estate in question.

Important case

This important case shows that it is worth considering an application for interim provision under the Inheritance Act to ease the financial pressure which inevitably builds before the case is finally resolved.

If a claim is successful, it can result in cash payments being made from the estate or an order that property is transferred to the applicant including for their housing needs.

Specialist legal advice

Applications for interim provision under the Inheritance Act can be complex and difficult and it is vital to take specialist legal advice to maximise the chances of success.

Wards Solicitors is one of the few firms to have a dedicated team of specialists in resolving disputes concerning Wills, estates and family trusts.

Our lawyers are members of the Association of Contentious Trusts & Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, Solicitors for the Elderly and of the Law Society's Probate Panel. All demand expertise and up-to-date knowledge from their members.

For help and advice about contesting a Will, please contact Wards Solicitors' Contentious Trusts and Probate Team. The team is praised by the independent Legal 500 Guide for 2020 for its excellent track record in dealing with high-value disputes over Wills, trusts and probate. It is also commended for its handling of cross-jurisdictional issues including assessing the validity of Wills and the sale of property relating to deceased family members.

Head of the team, Elizabeth Fry, is highlighted as a key lawyer, regularly representing private and business clients on disputes relating to the Inheritance Act. She is described as experienced, knowledgeable as well as 'compassionate, understanding and non-judgemental'.

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