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Inheritance Act Claims

Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975

If you have been omitted from a will, or have not been left as much as you might have expected, you may be entitled to bring a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”). It may also be possible to bring a claim under the 1975 Act if the deceased died intestate (without having made a will).

With over 15 years of experience, our contentious probate solicitors understand the emotive nature of these types of claims and will work closely with you to ensure the best result is achieved, whilst managing matters as sensibly, pragmatically and as amicably as possible.

We approach each claim under the 1975 Act with of the aim of avoiding potentially stressful litigation and court proceedings if possible, with a focus on exploring alternative dispute resolution methods. In cases where agreement cannot be reached, we have vast experience in helping clients navigate court the court process.

Whether you are seeking to make a claim under the Inheritance 1975 Act or are dealing with a threatened claim against the estate, our contentious probate solicitors can help.

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

The 1975 Act gives the right to make a claim for ‘reasonable financial provision’ to certain categories of claimant who have not been provided for at all or adequately from the deceased’s estate (whether under the terms of a will or on intestacy where there is no will).

It should be noted that the definition of ‘reasonable financial provision’ varies depending on the relationship between the claimant and the deceased.The rules for a surviving spouse or civil partner are distinct from the other categories of claimant.

Claim by a surviving spouse or civil partner

A surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to all provisions in such that they are entitled to a continuation of the standard of living they were accustomed to prior to the death of their husband or wife.

The 1975 Act defines reasonable financial provision for a spouse or civil partner as reasonable provision for that person to receive whether or not that provision is required for his or her maintenance.

Other Inheritance Act claimants

For other categories of claimant under the 1975 Act, the court will make a judgment on the level of financial provision which is reasonable for that person to receive for their maintenance.

Defending an Inheritance Act claim

Whether you are the executor of a will, a beneficiary, or both, you could find yourself having to face a 1975 Act claim. Depending on your role, your position will differ:


If you are the executor, there are certain obligations specific to the role that you should be aware of. Where a claim for provision under the Inheritance 1975 Act has been made, you are obliged to provide the court with accurate and up-to-date information regarding the deceased’s estate. Furthermore, executors are required to take a neutral stance in relation to the proceedings and usually will indicate that they will be bound by the decision of the court.


For the beneficiaries a 1975 Act claim raises an important decision. Beneficiaries can either choose to actively defend the claim or, alternatively they can decide to remain neutral and therefore steer clear of the matter.

The considerations for actively defending the claim will include whether your entitlement stands to be affected by the claim.  For example, the recipient of a cash legacy under the will may be unaffected by the outcome of the claim as it may only affected the residuary estate.  However, if you are a residuary beneficiary then your entitlement is likely to be directly affected (ie reduced potentially) by the outcome of the claim.

Making an Inheritance Act claim

Who can make a claim under the 1975 Act?

  • A spouse or civil partner
  • A former spouse or partner (who has not remarried or registered a new civil partnership)
  • A person living with the deceased as husband, wife or civil partner for two years immediately before the death
  • A child of the deceased (minors and adults)
  • Aperson treated by the deceased as a child of the family (including fostered children or stepchildren). The ‘family’ must have been in the context of a marriage or civil partnership
  • A person who was receiving maintenance from the deceased immediately before their death

Considerations for making an Inheritance Act claim

Time limits: how long have you got to make a claim?

Generally there is a time limit of six months from the date of the Grant of Probate by which a 1975 Act claim must be started.

What is “reasonable” provision?

If you are considering making a claim under the Inheritance 1975 Act, the first question to ask is whether or not the deceased’s estate has made reasonable financial provision for you. Relief under the Act can only be granted by the court if it decides that the provision made in the will does not reasonably meet the claimant’s needs for maintenance (unless the claimant is a spouse or civil partner).

To answer this question, the court will consider:

  • Whether the will (or the Intestacy Rules) makes reasonable financial provision for the claimant
  • If reasonable financial provision has not been made, what provision should the court make (if any)

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