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What is The Inheritance Act 1975?

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Inheritance Act 1975, or the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to give it its full name, is an Act if Parliament relating to inheritance in England and Wales. It allows anyone to challenge a will if they were previously partly or wholly financially dependent on the person who has died, and that person has not left any or enough provision (or “reasonable financial provision”) in their will to continue to provide for them.

clip_image002It also allows for people to make a claim if they are financially dependent on the person who has died, but have not been left enough or indeed any inheritance through the rules of intestacy, either because the deceased did not leave a will, or because their will was declared invalid.

In order to bring a successful case under the Inheritance Act, it has to be shown that you were financially dependent on the deceased and that insufficient money has been left to you.

People who can claim under this act include:

  • spouses or civil partners
  • former spouses or civil partners, providing they have not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership
  • anyone living with the deceased for two years previous to their death
  • any children of the deceased. It is particularly common for adult children who have not inherited any money from their parents to challenge the will using the Inheritance Act
  • anyone who was treated as a child of the family of the deceased
  • anyone who was wholly or partly maintained by the deceased immediately before their death


If you believe that you have a claim to make under the Inheritance Act 1975, it is vital that the claim is made with six months of the date of the grant of representation.

What constitutes “reasonable financial provision” will vary on a case by case basis. As with all aspects of estate planning law, challenges made using the Inheritance Act 1975 can be complicated, costly and emotional, and so it is advisable to seek effective legal advice from the outset. To read more information about challenging or contesting a will, click here to read our article.

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