Claiming part of an estranged spouse’s inheritance
If a couple separate but do not divorce, their finances continue to be linked until either a divorce or separation agreement (which divides finances in a binding agreement) is finalised. Even finances built up after separation can be treated as joint assets.
While delaying a formal divorce may seem the easier path, it can lead to adverse financial consequence if divorce takes place at a later date or if one of the spouses dies before divorce. In this Blog,
we look at the latter scenario.
The first point to make is that if you are legally married to someone at the time of your death and have no Will (this is known as being intestate), your spouse will inherit a large portion (if not all) of your estate under the intestacy rules.
Even if you have made a Will, your spouse could seek to challenge this under the terms of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. Under the 1975 Act your spouse, even if you have been separated from them for a long time, could seek to claim part of your Estate (see here for more details).
It is important to understand that whilst a former spouse who has not remarried can bring a claim under the 1975 Act, such claims are generally more restricted than claims by current spouses.
If you think you may have a claim against an estranged spouse’s estate, or you want to protect an inheritance you have received (or are expecting) contact Phil Youdan at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your options.