Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

You can bring a claim, if in all the circumstances the will or intestacy provisions (when there is no will) fail to make reasonable provision for you and you fall within the category of individuals who can claim against a deceased’s estate, which include:

  • A surviving spouse or civil partner
  • Former spouses or civil partners
  • Cohabitees (if you lived together as man and wife for over two years)
  • Children of the person that died
  • People treated as children of the family
  • People that were dependant on the person that died

Claims under this legislation allow a qualifying individual to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from the estate. The extent of that provision will depend on the extent of the estate, the personal circumstances of the applicant, any competing needs, and anything else that the Court considers relevant such as conduct. The Court will consider any letter of wishes made by the deceased explaining why they have disinherited an individual but is not bound by such a letter.

Spouses and Civil partners do not need to demonstrate that any provision sought is needed for their maintenance. Individuals from other categories will need to demonstrate a financial need in order for their claim to succeed.

Examples include:

  • Where a spouse has sought to disinherit their spouse by leaving everything to someone else in their will
  • Where a cohabitee who owned the family home had not made a will or hadn’t updated their will so the survivor is potentially homeless
  • Where a child was being maintained by the deceased prior to death

Awards include:

  • The whole of an estate for a disinherited spouse
  • The provision of a home
  • The provision of maintenance by way of a lump sum or periodical payments

There are time limits on these types of claims and generally they need to be brought within six months of the issue of a grant of probate in the deceased’s estate. Sometimes the Court will allow late applications where there is a good excuse.