When it comes to the distribution of a deceased person’s assets, the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (IPFD Act) often springs to mind. However, there’s a common misconception that this act allows individuals to claim a share of the deceased’s estate as if they were direct beneficiaries. In reality, the IPFD Act primarily serves the purpose of providing maintenance and financial support, rather than granting a right to claim a full inheritance. Let’s delve into this distinction and explore why the name of the act might be somewhat misleading.

Understanding the IPFD Act

The IPFD Act was introduced to address situations where a person’s last will and testament or the rules of intestacy (when there is no will) fail to make reasonable financial provision for certain family members or dependents. While it does provide a mechanism for those left out or inadequately provided for to seek financial relief, the scope of what can be claimed under the act is limited.

Maintenance, Not Inheritance

The key point to grasp about the IPFD Act is that it is primarily concerned with providing maintenance and support to eligible claimants. This means that claimants are seeking financial assistance to meet their ongoing living expenses and needs rather than claiming a share of the deceased’s estate as a direct beneficiary. The act aims to prevent situations where individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased are left in dire straits.

Eligible Claimants

The act outlines specific categories of individuals who can make a claim for provision or greater provision, including spouses, civil partners, former spouses or civil partners, children, and dependents. In the case of spouses or civil partners, the act does not restrict their claims solely to maintenance but allows them to claim for a more substantial share of the estate.

Factors Considered by the Court

When assessing claims made under the IPFD Act, the court takes various factors into account, including the financial needs and resources of the claimant, the size and nature of the deceased’s estate, the needs and financial resources of other beneficiaries, and any obligations the deceased had towards the claimant. The overarching principle is to ensure that the claimant receives reasonable financial provision for their maintenance.

Addressing the Misleading Name

The name of the IPFD Act, while accurate in its intent to provide for family and dependants, can indeed be misleading in its implication of “inheritance.” It’s crucial to recognise that the act does not grant individuals an unfettered right to claim a share of an estate as if they were beneficiaries named in the will.

In summary, the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 is a valuable legal instrument designed to protect the financial interests of family members and dependents who may have been overlooked or inadequately provided for in a deceased person’s will or through intestacy. However, it primarily focuses on ensuring that claimants receive maintenance and support rather than bestowing an inheritance upon them. Understanding this distinction is vital for anyone considering a claim under the IPFD Act, as it helps manage expectations and facilitates a more accurate understanding of the relief it provides.

Get in touch with Deborah Francis to discuss your matter in more detail.