Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

Georgious Kyriacos Panayiotou, known as George Michael, sold over 115 million records as a member of the music duo 'Wham' and in his solo career. He died of natural causes on 25 December 2016, leaving a fortune worth £97 million. It was recently reported that George's trustees had agreed on a financial settlement with his ex-partner, Kenny Goss. Kenny and George began their relationship in 1996, going their separate ways 13-years later.

Goss issued a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, claiming that when George died, he was 'financially maintained' by him. He sought payment of £15,000 per month for his maintenance.

Who Can Claim Under the Inheritance Act 1975?

The Act allows certain categories of individuals to bring a claim against an estate of a deceased person where "reasonable financial provision" has not been made for them under the terms of the deceased's Will or by the rules of intestacy. The law acknowledges the belief that people are free to leave their estate as they so wish, but this Act recognises that, in certain circumstances, family and dependents may need reasonable financial provision after the person has died.  

Individuals that may be eligible to make an Inheritance Act claim include:

  • A spouse or civil partner of the Deceased.
  • A former spouse or civil partner.
  • A cohabitee who was living with the deceased (continually for at least two years immediately before the death).
  • A child (minors and adult) of the Deceased, an adopted child or a person treated as a child of the Deceased.
  • Any person who was being financially supported by them.  

What Can Be Claimed?

A claim under the Act is brought for "reasonable financial provision". If the applicant is not a spouse or civil partner, "reasonable financial provision" is limited to what is needed for the applicant's maintenance. Unfortunately, maintenance is not defined. It is not an amount that is luxurious bur neither is it subsistence level. It is an amount that enables the applicant to fund their day to day living costs at the standard of living they are used to. Spouses and civil partner claims are not limited to maintenance.

What Issues Are Considered?

In deciding whether to make an award (and to what extent), the Court will take into account:

  • The financial resources and financial needs which the applicant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including and savings and debts they may have.
  • The financial resources and needs of the beneficiaries of the Will and any other applicants.
  • The age and duration/involvement in the relationship with them.
  • The size and nature of the Deceased's estate.
  • Whether the applicant, beneficiaries or any other applicants have any mental or physical disabilities (the value of the estate and what the assets are). Any other relevant circumstances, including the conduct of the Deceased or the applicant.
  • Any other relevant factors (including conduct).

Time Limits

A claim under the Act needs to be issued with the Court within six months of the date of the Grant of Probate if the deceased had a Will or Letters of Administration if they died without a Will. 

It is possible to make an application to the Court for permission to bring a claim out of time, but success cannot be guaranteed. Any claim should be brought as soon as possible.

Here to Help

Our Contentious Probate Solicitors have vast experience in defending inheritance claims.If you feel you may be eligible to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975, please get in touch with a member of our Contentious Probate Team on 0161 941 4000 or email the Myerson Contentious Probate Team.