Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act) 1975
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act enables a person to make a claim where a Will (or an intestacy) results in them being left without “reasonable financial provision”. This could be because they have been left out of a Will (or intestacy) entirely or because they have been left less than they require.
Only certain categories or person are eligible to make a claim; a spouse or civil partner of the deceased, a former spouse or civil partner of the deceased (who has not remarried or re-entered into a civil partnership), a person living with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death as their spouse or civil partner, a child of the deceased, a person who was treated as a child of the deceased, a person who was being “maintained” by the deceased immediately prior to their death. Being “maintained” includes direct or indirect financial support. For example, allowing someone to live in your property rent free or giving someone a monthly allowance.
How much a claimant may receive from an estate if their claim is successful will depend on their “status”. A spouse or civil partner of the deceased will be entitled to such financial provision as is reasonable in all the circumstances – whether or not that provision is necessary for their maintenance. Anyone else will be entitled to such financial provision as is necessary for their maintenance. This is something the Court will assess on a case by case basis.
It is worth noting, however, that the starting point is that we have “testamentary freedom” to leave our estates as we wish on our deaths and so we do not have to include a person in our Will just because they fall in to one of the above categories. If we are to exclude such a person from our Will it is worth being aware of the possibility that they may bring a claim against our estate. It is not possible to stop someone bringing a claim, of course, but it is possible to mitigate the likelihood of the success of such a claim by considering it and addressing it at the point of putting in place our Will.
So whether someone feels that they have not been adequately provided for by a deceased’s Will or intestacy or whether someone wishes to exclude a person from their Will who may be eligible to bring a claim against their estate they should ensure that they take legal advice.