Time limits to consider when making or defending a claim made against a Deceased’s estate

Simona Morina

Article written by Simona Morina, Contested Probate Solicitor

If you are considering making or defending a claim, you should be aware of the time limits that apply. This is known as the “limitation period”. If a claim is not brought within the relevant limitation period, it is likely you will not be permitted to proceed with the claim.

Understanding the probate process

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s assets are distributed.  Debts are settled and the remaining estate is then transferred to the beneficiaries.

You can contest a Will (bring a legal challenge against it) if you believe the Will is not valid or that the provisions of the Will are unfair. Common grounds for contesting a Will include such things as undue influence, fraud, lack of capacity and the failure to meet legal formalities.

Other common challenges against a Deceased’s estate include claims made pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.  A claim can be made under this provision only by certain categories of individuals and only where they believe that a reasonable financial provision has not been made for them either in the Deceased’s Will or under an intestacy. Intestacy is the term for where there was no Will.

Another common claim that can arise is where a beneficiary is named in a Will (or is entitled under an intestacy) and they believe that they have not received their full entitlement from the Executor or Administrator who is dealing with the assets of the Deceased’s estate.

Time limits: a balancing act

One of the primary reasons for having a limitation period is to protect the interests of all the parties involved. Executors and beneficiaries alike need a final date by when clarity and closure can be assumed so the estate can be administered efficiently. By imposing time limits, the legal system encourages prompt resolution, preventing cases from lingering indefinitely and ensuring a fair and timely distribution of the assets.

What are the time limits when making or defending a claim against an estate?

As a general guide, the following limitation periods apply to making a claim against an estate:

Limitation periods for making a claim against an estate

Extension of time limits

In certain circumstances, the Court may permit an extension of the limitation period. However, such extensions are typically granted only under exceptional circumstances.

For more information on this or to discuss a particular matter further, please feel free to email me or contact the team on 020 8858 6971.