Making a claim against the estate of the deceased under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

What is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975?

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 or I(PFD)A 1975 allows certain categories of persons to make claims against the estate of the deceased.  These are:

  • Surviving wife/husband/civil partner;

  • A former wife or husband who has not remarried;

  • A child of the deceased;

  • Any person who, although was not the child of the deceased, was treated like a child of the family by the deceased (e.g. step-child);

  • A person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained, either whole or partly by the deceased.

These categories of persons can apply for an order under the Act on the grounds that the deceased’s will or intestacy or a combination of both showed that no reasonable financial provision was made for them.

Who else can claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975?

In 1995, the Law Reform (Succession) Act 1995 introduced the cohabitee/cohabitant as a sub-category of persons who could make a claim under the I(PFD)A 1975.  A Cohabitee was a person who lived with the deceased as though she/he was a spouse/partner but who was not married or did not enter into a civil partnership with the deceased. The rules on Intestacy recognized the rights of the surviving spouse/civil partner, but not that of the cohabitee until this was rectified by the Law Reform (Succession) Act 1995.

What are the requirements when applying for a reasonable financial provision? 

When applying for a reasonable financial provision, certain requirements need to be met:

  • The deceased must have died domiciled in England and Wales;

  • The claim under the Act must be made within 6 months of the grant or letters of administration;

In the case of a cohabitee/cohabitant, the person must have lived in the same household during the whole period of 2 years immediately before the deceased’s date of death.  There are certain instances when the court will consider an application even if the applicant and the deceased lived separately for medical reasons (e.g. deceased had to stay in hospital until his date of death). Previously, a cohabitant needed to show proof of dependency on the deceased to make a claim under the Act.  The Law Reform (Succession) Act 1995 amends the I(PFD)A 1975 and it is not mandatory to show a dependency between the applicant and the deceased.

In assessing the claim, the court will consider the applicant’s financial needs, the deceased’s moral obligations towards the applicant, the size of the deceased’s estate, and the applicant’s conduct towards the deceased.