There are six categories of person that can bring a claim under this Act.
These categories are:
1. Spouse / Civil partner
A person's spouse or civil partner is eligible to bring a claim under the Act after the person has died. Even if the parties were separated, living apart or intending to get divorced or dissolve their civil partnership ahead of the person dying, the surviving spouse or civil partner will still be eligible to bring a claim under the Act.
2. Former spouse / Civil partner
A person's former spouse or civil partner is eligible to bring a claim under the Act after they have died, subject to them not having entered into another marriage or civil partnership. It is important to consider any documents relating to divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, as for example, when a Court may order that a surviving civil partner cannot bring a claim under the Act.
Any person who is neither a spouse/civil partner nor a former spouse/civil partner of the person who has died but was living in the same household as that person as their husband, wife or civil partner for the period of two years before that person died is eligible to bring a claim under the Act.
Any natural child of the person who has died is eligible to bring a claim under the Act. This ranges from those who are under the age of 18 to adult children and includes illegitimate children and unborn children who are conceived and in the womb at the date of the person's death. If it is necessary to bring a claim on behalf of a minor child, a person over the age of 18 will need to act on the child's behalf in relation to the claim.
5. Child of the family
This class extends beyond the children of the person who has died and includes persons with whom they had no blood link but were, for example, treated as a child of the family. The most common example of someone who would be eligible under this class is a step-child of the person that has died. However, the Court has also included a grandchild in this class in a previous case.
6. Someone who was maintained
Any person who does not fit into any of the categories above but immediately before the person died, was being either wholly or partly maintained financially by them is eligible to bring a claim under the Act. Maintenance can take several forms but generally you will have been dependent upon the person who has died as they were, for example, paying your rent or household expenditure.
This document sets out the general principles relating to who is eligible to bring a claim under the Act. There are complicating factors relating to each category depending on the specific circumstances of each case, so if you are considering bringing a claim under the Act, it is important to seek advice from a specialist.
Clarion's Contentious Private Client Team are experts in dealing with claims under the Act and are happy to have an initial chat about the points detailed above. Please feel free to contact us on 0113 336 3427 and someone from the Team will be able to assist.
Make sure you watch out for the next blog in this series considering what you could get by bringing a claim under the Act, which will be published soon.
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