Inheritance (Provision for Family Dependents) Act 1975: A Caution Over Moral Claims

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In the recent case of Ball v Ball 2017 EWHC 1750 Ch, the High Court rejected a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (IPFDA) made by three adult children against their mother’s estate.

The IPFDA allows the court to provide further financial provisions for family and dependents who have been left out of a will, been left with less than they thought due, or if no will had been written prior to death. This includes, but is not limited to, the spouse of the deceased, the deceased’s children, and dependants maintained by the deceased.

In this particular case, the mother had disinherited three of her children for reporting their father to the police for indecent assault offences, for which the father was later convicted. The mother, who was not the abuser, had a clear intention for the 20 years following the execution of the will to disinherit those children notwithstanding the family background.

The Inheritance Act enables the court to distribute an estate fairly when reasonable financial provision has not been left in a will. Despite this, the High Court rejected her children’s claims that the mother had a lack of capacity to change her will or was influenced by their father, as she was not deemed misled as to his guilt. As the claim for reasonable provision was also rejected, the children ultimately received nothing from her will.

Is this then a victory for testamentary freedom over the IPFDA machinery?

Our barristers specialise in Wills and Probate law in Essex. If you need advice on writing or challenging a will, call our team on 01245 605040 or email clerks@trinitychambers.com.

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