What is reasonable financial provision in an Inheritance Act claim?

May 21, 2024

If you have been left out of a Will, you may be able to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from the deceased’s estate. We look at who can claim and how much they might receive.

It can be distressing to find that you have not been provided for from the estate of a loved one. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Inheritance Act) allows certain individuals to make a claim against the estate.

Who can make an Inheritance Act claim?

The Inheritance Act allows the following individuals to make a claim:

  • A spouse or civil partner
  • A former spouse or former civil partner, provided that they have not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership
  • The cohabiting partner, provided they were living with the deceased for at least two years prior to the date of death
  • A child of the deceased
  • Anyone the deceased treated as their child
  • Anyone supported financially by the deceased at the date of their death

How much can you claim under the Inheritance Act?

A spouse or civil partner can make a claim for ‘such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for a husband or wife to receive, whether or not that provision is required for his or her maintenance.’ In practice, this could be a similar sum to that which they would have received if they had divorced or dissolved the civil partnership. All other individuals are entitled to make a claim for ‘reasonable financial provision’.

What is reasonable financial provision?

If the court is asked to decide what reasonable financial provision is, it will consider the following points:

  • The financial resources you have available to you and that will be available to you in the foreseeable future
  • Your financial needs both now and in the foreseeable future
  • The financial resources and needs of the other beneficiaries and any other potential claimants
  • The deceased’s obligations and responsibilities
  • The size of the estate
  • Any physical or mental disability of any beneficiary or potential claimant
  • Anything else which the court considers relevant

In the case of Ilott v Mitson [2017], the Supreme Court considered a case where an estranged daughter had been disinherited by her mother, who had left her estate to be divided between a number of charities.

The daughter had five children and lived in Housing Association accommodation. Her main source of income was state benefits.

The court said that reasonable financial provision did not include everything that a claimant might want, nor was it limited to just subsistence. It will sometimes be appropriate to award a lump sum, although capital which can appreciate is more than just maintenance and, therefore, more than a reasonable financial provision. If there is a need for housing on the part of the claimant, a life interest is usually a better option.

The court also took into account the long estrangement that had taken place, saying that this should be regarded as a significant factor. It also noted the testator’s wishes that her daughter should not inherit anything and that if she made a claim, the executors should defend this.

In this case, a lump sum of £50,000 would allow Mrs Ilott to purchase white goods and other items she required, leaving a small enough sum that would not affect her entitlement to means-tested benefits.

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