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The position of spouses and civil partners when making an Inheritance Act claim

Posted on 26th September 2022 in Dispute Resolution

Posted by

Abigail Francis

The position of spouses and civil partners when making an Inheritance Act claim

When a loved one dies, it can be distressing to learn that their Will did not sufficiently provide for you. These can often be complicated circumstances, but it could be because of the size of the estate, the gift, or whether or not the person died without a Will.


What is reasonable financial provision?

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows the Court to use their discretion to provide reasonable financial provision when a Will, or rules of intestacy, fail to do so.


What does the court consider to be reasonable financial provision?

In determining what is ‘reasonable’ financial provision, the Court will undertake an objective assessment of the claimant’s financial position. This will determine what provision can be made to ensure the claimant’s needs are met by the estate. It is up to the claimant to provide evidence to support their financial position.

Although what is ‘reasonable’ in most cases only extends to the claimant’s ‘maintenance’, a spouse or civil partner of the deceased will be in a more favourable position, with the potential to claim more.

The starting point in these types of claims is to consider the financial provision that would have been made if the parties started divorce proceedings at the date of the deceased’s death. When determining the division of assets upon divorce, the Court tends to prioritise three principles;

  • the financial needs of the parties
  • compensation
  • sharing

Additionally, the court will consider each of the Section 3 factors. These are;

  • The financial resources and/or needs of the claimant now and in the future.
  • The financial resources and/or needs of any other potential applicant now and in the future.
  • The financial resources and/or needs of any beneficiary of the estate now and in the future.
  • Any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards the claimant, any applicant or beneficiary.
  • The size and nature of the estate.
  • Any physical or mental disability of the claimant, any applicant or beneficiary.
  • Any other matter that the court considers relevant.


Does a spouse or civil partner get more in an Inheritance Act claim?

It is important to note that although the provision made for a spouse/civil partner tends to be at a higher standard, each case is determined based on fact and individual circumstances. The duty of the court in these types of claims is to consider each of the relevant factors above in turn, balancing the needs of the claimant and any other party when making provision from the estate.


Find out more

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