Contesting a Will Article
10 March, 2020
When bringing a claim against an Estate for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the claim needs to be issued within 6 months of the date of the Grant of Probate, as detailed in Section 4 of the Act. If a claim is to be brought out of this six-month time limit, the Court must grant permission.
There has been much debate recently over the time limit to bring a claim, notably in Cowan v Foreman. This month, in the case of Thakare v Bhusate  EWHC 52 (Ch), a new record was set and Mrs Bhusate was granted permission to bring a claim 25 years and 9 months after the 6-month deadline.
Mr and Mrs Bhusate married in India in 1979 when he was 61. Mr Bhusate had been married twice before and had five children. Mrs Bhusate was 28 years old, spoke little English, and had only a limited education. They lived in London and had one child before Mr Bhusate died intestate in 1990. The matrimonial home failed to sell, and Mrs Bhusate continues to live there with her son.
In the case of Berger v Berger , guidelines were formulated in relation to the 6 month time limit, with the first of these being that the Court has unrestricted discretion to allow claims to be brought after the 6 month time limit, but that this discretion must be exercised in accordance with what is right and proper.
In the case of Thakare v Bhusate, Mrs Bhusate was granted permission to bring a claim out of time, partly because the poor relationship between Mrs Bhusate and her stepchildren had prevented the sale of the house.
The stepchildren appealed against this decision and argued that Mrs Bhusate had already had financial provision made for her from the Estate and that it was her own fault that this had been lost. This was rejected and Judge Mr Edwin Johnson QC said that due to the stepchildren's lack of co-operation, the Estate had been left in limbo. He went on to say that the period of delay was 'very exceptional' and that in all the circumstances of this case he could see no reason for interfering with the Chief Master's decision. The appeal was dismissed.
This decision shows that cases dealing with inheritance disputes that are out of time fall on their own facts and it is essential to take legal advice early in these claims.
For more information contact Olivia Jack in our Contesting a Will department via email or phone on 0333 207 1130. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.