reasonable financial provision

What does “reasonable financial provision” mean?


The term “reasonable financial provision” is sometimes applied to wills whereby the deceased has left little or nothing to a dependent.

Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, even if a person does not intend to leave anything a dependent, that person can then claim, to receive a degree of funding from the estate to maintain their lifestyle.

A recent, high-profile case involves the will of the late songwriter Robin Gibb. Gibb left an estate which was reported to be valued at around £26 million, documented in a 15 page will.

Unfortunately, he saw fit to leave nothing for the child whom he fathered with his housekeeper, save for the final paragraph of the will, in which he asked his trustees to provide for her, should he not be able to make reasonable financial provision for her in time.

This means that provided she does so within the time limit imposed, the girl’s mother is able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 to claim provision for her daughter. This is despite claims that Gibb purchased an £850,000 house for the girl and her mother, and that his housekeeper is permitted to remain within that house.

For this reason, it is always worth including all dependents in your will, to avoid unnecessary legal proceedings in the civil court after the event of your death.

Making a claim for financial provision

 


 
In an increasing number of instances, children and loved ones who have expected to be financially provided for in a deceased’s Will, are bitterly disappointed when they find they have been left with nothing.
 
This can have a devastating effect on the individual and their family, who may have been relying upon this money to help them out of a financial difficulty.
 
If this sounds like you, then you may be able to contest the Will and claim for reasonable financial provision.
 
Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, you may either contest the fact that you were left nothing at all, or that you were not left the amount of money to which you are certain you should have been.
Whether or not you can make a claim for reasonable financial provision all depends on your relationship with the deceased, when they were alive.  Current or former spouses, children (blood, adopted and step children), civil partners and anyone who were receiving some kind of financial maintenance from the deceased at the time of death may be eligible.
A reasonable financial provision claim will usually be heard in a court and various aspects of the case will be taken into consideration, including the relationship you had with the deceased, your financial circumstances and the amount of money you were left, if anything at all.

Contentious probate – when a Will is contested

Complicated family structures can result in an undignified battle when it comes to the delicate matter of inheritance; as seen recently in the media, when the partner of a millionaire spent six years in legal dispute with the children of her former boyfriend.
 
Ramadan Guney, who owned the UK’s largest cemetery, had six grown up children, then fathered another child with his new partner.
 
On his death, Mr Guney left a £28 million fortune which was then fought over by the six children and Mr Guney’s partner, who wanted to claim “reasonable financial provision” against his Estate.
 
The battle became extremely ugly, with the children claiming their father had had a vasectomy 30 years previously and questioning the parentage of the other youngest son. In turn, Ms Holiday, Mr Gurney’s partner, claimed that the six siblings had tried to kill her. The situation became so bad that Mr Gurney’s grown up children claimed that their father had in fact been murdered, and had his body exhumed.
 
Finally, despite the outlandish claims from both sides, the Court agreed with Ms Holiday and awarded her £60,000 per year from the Estate, along with the cemetery, valued between £700,000 and £1.2 million.
 
Prevent any bad blood occurring between your family members by not only keeping your Will updated but by maintaining a memorandum, which will explain your wishes and reasons behind the content of your Will.

Claiming reasonable financial provision

Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that children and individuals are left out of a Will, despite normally being considered as principal beneficiaries.
 
With a dramatic increase in the number of people looking to fund their retirement and family life on the basis of an expected inheritance, feelings then can run high if they subsequently discover they have been left nothing.
 
The Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975 states that anyone in this position (particularly children of deceased parents) who are left with nothing, can make a claim against the deceased’s Estate if they are left financially destitute.
 
If the deceased is judged to have not left reasonable financial provision for their children; or perhaps a vulnerable partner or sibling, then there may be a basis for that individual to make a claim.
 
This does not mean that if the individual is fit to work, they are still automatically entitled to make a claim.
 
Reasonable financial provision in probate is still a relatively grey area and is judged very much on a case by case basis. Originally designed to sustain a child, you will be expected to demonstrate if you are an adult, that you are unable to obtain additional revenue from another source.

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