What is the Inheritance Act?

Contested probate lawyer Naomi Ireson answers the popular question, ‘What is the Inheritance Act?’

The Inheritance Act

When someone asks, ‘What is the Inheritance Act?’, what they are actually referring to is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act) 1975. It’s a bit of a mouthful, which is why people use the shorthand term, ‘Inheritance Act’.

The Inheritance Act is a piece of legislation applicable in England and Wales that allows specified classes of people to contest the terms of a Will (or an intestacy) if reasonable financial provision has not been made for them. The Act does not extend to Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Who can make an Inheritance Act claim?

The specified classes of people who can make an Inheritance Act claim include:

  • the spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  • a person living with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death as their spouse or civil partner;
  • a former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased, but not one who has formed a subsequent marriage or civil partnership;
  • a child of the deceased;
  • a ‘child of the family’ who was treated as a child of the deceased; and
  • a person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained by the deceased.

How much can I claim under the Inheritance Act?

The courts have wide powers to redistribute someone’s estate regardless of what is stated in their Will (or under intestacy). The amount that can be claimed will therefore vary from case to case depending upon the size of the estate, and the circumstances  of the claimant and any beneficiaries.

What factors will the court take into account?

When considering a claim the court will have regard to:

  • the financial needs and resources which the applicant has (or is likely to have in the foreseeable future);
  • the financial needs and resources which any other applicant has (or is likely to have in the foreseeable future);
  • the financial needs and resources which any beneficiary of the estate has (or is likely to have in the foreseeable future);
  • any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards the applicant, or towards any beneficiary;
  • the size and nature of the net estate;
  • any physical or mental disability of any applicant or any beneficiary; and
  • any other matter, including the conduct of the applicant or any other person, which the court may consider relevant.

The time limit for making an Inheritance Act claim

An application under the Inheritance Act should be made within six months of the date on which a Grant of Representation with respect to the estate of the deceased is first taken out. Late applications will require the permission of the court.

What is the cost of making an inheritance claim?

Inheritance disputes can lead to substantial legal costs being incurred. We therefore offer a range of funding options, including No Win, No Fee and ‘Pay at the End’. Our lawyers will always be happy to discuss what funding options are available in your case.

How we can help with your Inheritance Act claim

If you found this article helpful and you are looking for experienced solicitors to assist you with your inheritance dispute case then contact us for a free assessment of your case.

Call 0333 888 0407 or send us an email.


What is the Inheritance Act?