Whilst any person has testamentary freedom to leave their estate however they see fit, they should be aware that their freedom is slightly restricted by the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the 1975 Act).
The 1975 Act gives the court powers to order financial provision from a deceased’s estate to benefit certain applicants. S1 of the Act covers who can apply to the court based on a lack of reasonable provision.
The surviving spouse/civil partner of the deceased (including a judicially separated spouse).
A former spouse/civil partner who has not yet remarried or formed a new Civil Partnership (noting that their divorce/dissolution may restrict the ability to apply under the 1975 Act).
A person who lived with the deceased for period of at least two years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died and they lived as if they were husband and wife (or as if they were civil partners)
A child of the deceased. This includes any children of the deceased en ventre sa mère mere, illegitimate children and any adopted children but does not include a child born to the deceased but adopted by someone else.
A person treated as a child
A person who was treated by the deceased as a child of the family. This could cover stepchildren, former stepchildren of the deceased and children who they are, or were, the guardian of.
Any person, who does not fit into the previous groups, who immediately before the death of the deceased was maintained either wholly or partly by the deceased. A person is only seen as being maintained by the deceased if the deceased, otherwise than for full valuable consideration (for example being paid for maintaining the person), was making a substantial contribution in money or moneys worth towards the reasonable needs of that person.
Any person who does not fall into any of the above categories cannot apply to the courts due to lack of reasonable provision. If a client is worried about a sibling or a parent for example applying due to lack of reasonable provision, they can be assured that the relative could not apply to the courts unless they were being maintained by the client in some manner.