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Can Adult Children claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975?

View profile for Danielle Dyer
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The short answer is yes. An adult child does qualify to be able make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (‘the Act’). Whether that adult child’s claim has any prospect of success is another question and we take a look at the recent case law in this particular area.

The Law

The foundation upon which UK law surrounding disposing of an estate following death remains firmly based upon the concept of testamentary freedom. That being, that a person is free to decide how their assets are distributed/disposed of upon their death. An adult child does not have an automatic right to receive an inheritance from their parents, but an adult child might be in a position to make an application for financial provision under the Act, but for their claim to stand any prospect of success the adult child claimant will need to show that the will (or the intestacy rules in the event of there not being a will or valid will) does not make reasonable financial provision for their maintenance. The Act essentially gives the court power to adjust the will or the intestacy rules if they are satisfied that an adult child has not been given reasonable financial provision for their maintenance.

The court will then undergo an objective assessment based on all the circumstances of the case against the relevant factors contained within section 3 of the Act as to whether reasonable financial provision should be made and if so, how much should be awarded.

There is case law to support a successful adult child claimant and there is also case law demonstrating the failure of an adult child’s claim.

Case Law

  • Illot v The Blue Cross and Others [2017]

The claimant was disinherited by her mother making a new will in 2002 in which she left her entire estate to three charities. The claimant and her mother had been estranged for 26 years prior to her mother’s death (since the Claimant left home at 17 years old).

The claimant was reliant on state benefits, she was not working and lived in a rented housing association home with five children. The Claimant, having not been given any financial provision under her mother’s will brought a claim under the Act for reasonable financial provision for her maintenance as a child of the deceased.

The Claimant was successful and was originally awarded £50,000 out of an estate worth £486,000. The Court of Appeal then increased the award to £143,000 to be able to buy the house she was living in with an option to receive a further £20,000.

The beneficiary charities appealed, and the Supreme Court reinstated the judge’s original decision and the £50,000 award.

The Act allows for children to claim against their deceased parent’s estate, but that award is limited to what is reasonable for their maintenance, which the court said is intended to link an award to need and not create gifts or legacies where one was not intended.

The court will have to make an assessment on the facts, with reference to the section 3 factors Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (

In contrast to this, the next case was one where the court did not find that the claimant’s application failed and the court found that the claimant’s did not require reasonable financial provision for their maintenance from their deceased dad’s estate:

  • Miles v Shearer [2021]

The two claimants were the only children of the deceased.  The deceased left the vast majority of his estate to his new wife (the claimants’ stepmother).

The Claimants were eligible under the Act as the deceased children and therefore they proceeded to bring a claim against the estate on the basis that the deceased had acted unreasonably by not including them in his will and that they needed financial provision for their maintenance.

The Claimant’s financial circumstances are starkly different to that of the above case. The first claimant lived with her mother, and they jointly owned a property. The first claimant was seeking financial provision to purchase her own home and to assist with re-training for her chosen line of work.

The second claimant had a full-time job with an annual salary of approximately £70,000 and capital of approximately £300,000. The second claimant sought financial provision to enable her to change her interest only mortgage to a repayment mortgage and to help purchase her former husband’s share in her property.

The claim was opposed by the stepmother on the ground that neither claimant had demonstrated a financial need for maintenance and that the deceased had already fulfilled any parental obligations of financial assistance.

The court considered both of the claimants’ financial circumstances and found that neither claimant was in strained financial circumstances to be able to establish a need for maintenance under the Act. The judge also found that the deceased had been clear that he would no longer be giving any further financial gifts after those he made to them earlier in 2008.

On this basis, the judge concluded that the claimants failed to establish that reasonable, financial provision had not been made for them and the claims were dismissed.

How we can Help

Should you feel disappointed about not receiving inheritance from your loved one’s will or under the intestacy rules, or if you are an executor or beneficiary who has received notice that an application under the Act might be made, please call us on 01252 733770 or e-mail us at and a member of the team will be in touch.