If you have not been reasonably provided for in a loved one's will, the law may come to your aid. However, as a High Court ruling made plain, your ability to seek legal redress cannot itself be inherited and will expire on your death.
Following the deaths of his adoptive parents, a son launched proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 asserting that they had not made reasonable provision for him in their wills. The son sadly died before his case could come to court and his widow thereafter sought to pursue the claim on behalf of his estate.
Dismissing the claim, the Court found that the right to apply for reasonable provision from a deceased person's estate is purely personal to the applicant and is incapable of being further pursued following their death. The objective of the Act is to ensure that family members and dependants receive such financial provision as is reasonably required for their maintenance. Any such need for maintenance, the Court observed, plainly ceases on the applicant's death.
In further seeking to pursue a claim for reasonable provision in her own right, the widow asserted that her parents-in-law had treated her as a child of the family. They had, she argued, developed a relationship of mutual dependency. They had provided her and her husband with financial support when needed and, just as a daughter would do, she had provided them with care and company in their final years.
In striking out her claim, however, the Court found that there was nothing in their relationship which went beyond the usual display of affection, kindness and hospitality between parents and the spouse of their child. She had not been treated as a child of the family in her own right and thus did not fall within the limited category of those who can bring proceedings under the Act.