English law generally gives a person complete freedom to dispose of his or her estate by a Will. This contrasts with the laws of other countries which require their nationals (and sometimes residents) at their death to give a share of the estate to the family. English law has rules for the distribution of an estate not been disposed of by a Will.
But English law allows some claims for provision from an estate of a person who has died domiciled in England and Wales. Claims for financial provision may be brought by a spouse, civil partner, children and financial dependants and sometimes a former spouse, former civil partner or cohabitee. The court can order financial provision that is reasonable in the circumstances by the transfer of cash or property to the claimant from the deceased person’s assets. Orders can apply to some trusts and lifetime gifts. Claims should be brought within six months of the issue of the grant of representation to the estate.
It is important to obtain good advice on inheritance claims for financial provision from the outset. See also Trust and Probate litigation.