Under the Administration of Estates Act 1925

In contrast to many other states, English jurisprudence maintains to the rule of absolute freedom of testation. The freedom of testation includes the right non to do a will every bit good as the right to do one. However, this freedom is truly one of theory as one time the deceased has died, so parliament has decreed that the contents of the will may be capable to dispute and basically the tribunals can change the footings of the will in certain fortunes, as will be discussed subsequently on.

The English jurisprudence of intestate sequence is governed by the commissariats of the

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Administration of Estates Act 1925. This Act sets out a strategy of fixed portions for those categories of individuals set out in that Act. By manner of illustration, s 46 ( 1 ) ( I ) , says that upon intestacy, the lasting partner automatically inherits the full estate providing there are no lasting issue, parents or brothers and sisters ( or their issue ) of the whole blood of the deceased.

The Administration of Estates Act 1925 reflected society and its attitude at that clip, where the bulk of people who lived together as a household unit did so as adult male and married woman. It was rare for people to live together. However society and its tolerance towards unconventional relationships that do non suit the traditional manner has altered dramatically over recent old ages. The Administration of Estates Act makes no proviso for a cohabitant of the deceased. In such a instance the estate will enthrone in the close relations of the asleep and the single spouse will have nil.

In 1975, Parliament attempted to avoid the unfairness of the intestacy regulations and to control the freedom of testates to go forth their estate to whomever they pleased, by presenting the Inheritance ( Provisions for Family and Dependants ) Act ( “the Act” ) . This Act introduced categories of applier who could use to the tribunal if they felt aggrieved by the statutory regulations on intestacy. The tribunal has discretion to amend the footings of the statutory strategy set out in the 1925 Act, either entirely or partly where it considers that it is just to make so. Similarly anyone who came within the category of appliers who felt that a testate did non do any or sufficient proviso for them in the deceased’s will, may besides use.

Section 4 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 extended the right of a civil spouse to use under the Act along with the lasting partner. Civil spouses can use for proviso on the same footing as heterosexual partners which means that they have the higher criterion of proviso and is non limited to care. Paragraph 7 of the 2004 damagess s 46 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925 to give civil spouses the right to a statutory bequest and other rights which the surviving partner is entitled to.

A former partner is improbable to win in a claim, as by and large talking their fiscal personal businesss are considered settled and concluding one time the divorce takes topographic point. Indeed when the tribunal grants a edict of divorce it may order that a partner shall non be entitled to use for an order under the Act, seeBarrass V Harding ( 1 ). In this manner, the divorce tribunals can give consequence to the wants of one party which will exclude the other party from doing a claim under the Act which would non be just and would be against the wants of the ( hereafter ) testate.

One of the most debatable classs concerns a individual who was being maintained by the deceased. S 1 ( 1 ) ( vitamin E ) of the Act states that a individual shall be treated as being maintained “if the asleep, otherwise than for full valuable consideration, was doing a significant part in money or money’s deserving towards the ( applicant’s ) sensible needs” . The tribunal has to see the extent to which, and the footing upon which, the deceased “assumed responsibility” for the applicant’s maintenance” .

This demand under s 3 ( 4 ) can be liberally interpreted. InRe B ( Deceased ) ( 2 ) ,

a woman’s handicapped girl had been given a big compensation award due to clinical carelessness during her birth. A part of the award was used to buy a house and expression after her girl. The girl died aged 14 and the female parent applied under the Act. The Court of Appeal held that she could be regarded as holding been maintained by her girl, as it was her compensation fund that had provided the fiscal means to back up them both. The Court’s broad reading allowed it to make a merely solution under the footings of the Act.

Given the basic rule of freedom of testation, so the jurisprudence normally expects big kids to be financially independent of their parents and this seems right given that an order under the Act can merely supply for care for the applier ( unless he/she is a lasting partner or civil spouse ) . But it appears that the tribunals now take a more generous attitude. In the instance ofEspinosa V Burke(3) , the aged male parent had cared for his daughter’s boy. The girl who was in her 1950ss gave up her occupation and moved with them in order to care for her male parent. The male parent supported all the household but was disapproving of his girl who had been married five times. She lived chiefly in Spain during the last twelvemonth of her father’s decease, and he was cared for by her boy and a cleansing agent. The male parent bequeathed all his belongings to his boy and the girl applied under the Act. The Court of Appeal held that there is no demand to set up a moral duty on the deceased to supply for his girl. Rather the daughter’s ain fiscal demands and fortunes including her limited earning capacity, was sufficient for the tribunal to present her about half the estate. This instance exemplifies how the Act gives the tribunal sufficient flexibleness so that it can measure each instance on its virtues and make an just solution which is based on the demands of the applier instead than enforcing a moral duty per Se on the male parent to do proviso in his will.

The Act did non do specific proviso for cohabitees unless they could postulate that they had been dependent upon the deceased for 2 old ages instantly prior to his decease. This was an unsatisfactory province of personal businesss and caused jobs for cohabitees who had contributed well to their deceased partner’s public assistance as it was hard to state that they had been maintained entirely or in portion by the deceased. S 1 ( 1 ) ( vitamin E ) was debatable in state of affairss where the applier and the deceased were in a settled regular relationship with both parties lending financially or otherwise to the other’s good being. In order to rectify these jobs, the Act was eventually amended by s 2 ( 2 ) Law Reform ( Succession ) Act 1995. The amendment introduced a new proviso which is now embodied in s 1 ( 1 ) ( B ) ( a ) of the Act. The consequence of the amendment is that in instances where the testate died after December 1995 an application may now be made by a individual who “during the whole of the period of two old ages stoping instantly before the day of the month when the asleep dies had

( a ) been populating in the same family as the asleep and

( B ) as the hubby or married woman of the deceased”

This amendment reflected the increasing credence of, and tolerance towards, single relationships and it provided protection towards people whom society would moderately comprehend as cohabitants. Although it was every bit recent as 1995 that the amendment introduced cohabitants as a new category of applicant under the Act, the tribunals have arguably extended protection through their finding of several instances and have interpreted these new commissariats in a reasonably indulgent mode.

The Act appears really specific in its demand that the cohabitant applier must hold been shacking with the deceased at the clip of his decease and for the two old ages instantly predating decease.

However the tribunals have introduced a broad reading of this demand of “immediately” . The tribunals will look at the period of separation and besides look at the ground of the physical separation. The tribunal has held that if the two twelvemonth period is interrupted by unwellness, this will non impact the continuity period supplying the tribunal is satisfied that the ground for the interruption in continuity is due to the unwellness, seeRe Watson ( deceased )( 4 )

In this instance, the asleep spent his last three hebdomads of life in infirmary and the tribunal expressly contended that such a separation would non interrupt the continuity of life in the same family. Judge Neuberger held that “As a affair of ordinary linguistic communication, the fact that a individual is in infirmary for a period, perchance a long period, at the terminal of which he dies, does non intend that before his decease, he ceased to be portion of the family of which he was portion, until he was forced by unwellness to travel into infirmary, and to which he would hold returned had he non died” . But for the unwellness, the parties would hold continued to busy the same family.

When interpreting the limitation placed by the word “immediately” , the Court of Appeal has held inJelley V Illiffe(5 )that the right attack is to look at the settled footing of the relationship, instead than concentrating on the few hebdomads prior to decease.

A more hard job arises when the relationship has been volatile affecting a physical separation.

In the instance ofGully V Dix( 6 ) ,the parties had been in a relationship for some 20 seven old ages. The asleep had been an alcoholic and the applier had endured several hard old ages with him. The applicant’s GP advised her to go forth him temporarily and three months after the separation, the asleep died. The applier adduced grounds that she intended to return to the deceased if his behavior permitted this. During the relationship there had been several shorter separations, which resulted in the applier returning when the deceased had vowed to halt imbibing. The tribunal held that the relationship was simply suspended instead than extinguished and therefore the construct of the family continued. As Lord Justice Ward commented “so the staunchness of a committedness to populate together may wax and decline, but so long as it is non extinguished it survives” .

So the virtues of this instance were an assistance to a broad attack to the significance of the word “immediately” .

Another of import standards for a successful claim by a cohabitant is that they should be populating as the hubby or married woman of the deceased.

The Act did non imagine that every house partaker would measure up under its standards.

Prior to the determination in Re Watson, some donees had taken an unhealthy involvement in the deceased’s kiping agreements with their spouse. Often the people involved were aged who had lived in the same family in their ulterior old ages but who had antecedently had long matrimonies to their several partners. Often the donees were the offspring from those matrimonies who disliked the labelling of the ulterior relationship as that of hubby and married woman.

In Re Watson the twosome had been romantically involved in their younger old ages but had so cared for their several partners. When the twosome were in their 1950ss their duty towards their parents ceased and the female applier moved into the deceased’s house. This agreement persisted for 10 old ages but they did non portion a sleeping room and their relationship was Platonic. The applicant described her relationship as follows ; “we were truly to the remainder of the universe adult male and wife” . Mr Justice Neuberger adopted this nonsubjective trial and said that the tribunal should inquire itself the inquiry:

“whether in the sentiment of a sensible individual with normal perceptual experiences, it could be said that the two people in inquiry were populating together as hubby and married woman, but when sing that inquiry one should non disregard the many-sided nature of matrimonial relationships” .

The instances that we have considered have concerned heterosexual twosomes. The so Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay when patronizing the Law Reform Succession Bill presenting the reform said “living as hubby and married woman, appears to us as the jurisprudence stands to use to spouses of opposite sexes and non to spouses of the same sex” .

However the instance of whether a same sex spouse can win in a occupancy was decided inGhaidan v Godin-Mendoza( 7 ) . Baroness Hale in Ghaidan acknowledged that the undermentioned characteristics would ensue in a decision that a twosome were “living together as hubby and wife” :

“what affairs most is the indispensable quality of the relationship, its marriage-like familiarity, stableness, and societal and fiscal inter-dependence” . The issue of committedness is hence of import in make up one’s minding whether the applicant qualifies under S 1 ( 1 ) ( Ba ) of the Act. The recent instance jurisprudence associating to the definition of populating together as hubby and married woman accents that the relationship must hold some characteristics that are necessary for a functioning matrimony. There has to be some respect for the fiscal and emotional well being of the spouse concerned.

The instance of Ghadian concerned the right of the same sex spouse to win to the partner’s occupancy and after this instance a subsister could measure up as an applier under the Rent Act 1977. The conventional building of the footings hubby and married woman is gender specific, originating out of the determination inFitzpatrick VSterling( 8 )

The issue of same sex cohabitants rights under the Act was decided in the instance ofSaunders v Garrett ( 9 ) .

In this instance the same sex twosome had lived together from 1989 until the deceased’s decease in 2002 and the Master had to see the instance in the visible radiation of the Human Rights Act 1998 as the jurisprudence Commission had expressly failed to supply for same sex cohabitants in 1995. A claim for proviso under the Act had the consequence of presenting Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in relation to his right to esteem for his household life and place. The tribunal concluded that there is favoritism between the heterosexual twosome and the same sex twosome, which contravenes Article 14. the Court therefore had to in consequence long pillow the statute law ( the Act ) in order for it to follow with the European Convention. The tribunal overcame the making of the applier by reading into the words of Section 1 ( 1A ) of the Act life together “as if hubby and wife” .

An order for proviso under the Act can merely be made out of the net estate of the deceased. S 9 concerns the deceased’s portion in belongings held as good articulation renters which the tribunal can, on an application for proviso under s 2, order that the deceased’s dissociable portion be treated as portion of the net estate. On a actual reading of s 9 the order is limited to the value of the deceased’s portion instantly before his decease. On the other manus s 3 ( 5 ) of the Act says that in sing the affairs to which the tribunal is required to hold regard under s 3, the tribunal must take into history the facts as known to the it at the day of the month of the hearing. This would look to include the value of the belongings at the day of the month of the hearing. InDingmar V Dingmar ( 10 )the Court of Appeal considered the extent of the belongings that could be caught by s 9 where the belongings had increased markedly in value since the day of the month of the deceased’s decease. Jacob and Ward LJ held that the tribunal did hold the needed power to do an order in regard of the deceased’s half portion at its present value which benefited the applier. Lloyd LJ dissented but it can be seen that the tribunals will be fictile in construing the Act and use the rigorous diction to practical state of affairss so that an just determination is reached.

In the instance ofFielden and Graham V Cunliffe ( 11 ) ,the Court of Appeal acknowledged that it had to see ( amongst other things ) , the proviso which the applier might moderately hold expected to have if the deceased and the applier had got divorced ( under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 ) instead than the asleep holding died. Whether the will makes sensible proviso for partners and civil spouses must be judged against what is sensible and non merely what would be sensible for their care. This instance involved the decease of the hubby during a comparatively short matrimony and although the tribunal has to take into history the length of the matrimony when sing doing an order under both the divorce statute law and the Act, the Court of Appeal stretched their reading of the Act. Although the Court substituted a lesser amount of ?600,000 to the widow, Mrs Cunliffe, it was a really generous colony and likely more than she would hold received under a divorce claim. Their logical thinking was that the decease was non due to any mistake of the partner and had he lived they may hold spent several old ages together as hubby and married woman. The shortness of the matrimony should non therefore have a negative consequence on the sum of the claim as it would hold had on divorce. So once more the tribunal is seen as construing the Act to suit the peculiar fortunes and their logical thinking as to why they were non constrained by the divorce statute law.

A testate may be cognizant that the contents of their will could give rise to disagree amongst their donees. In order to discourage a beneficiary from originating judicial proceeding a testate can include a status that a donee will lose their benefit under the will should they dispute the will. Such a status is known as “no contest” clauses and the English tribunals have systematically upheld them. Normally instances have centred on the cogency of the will itself and concern merely the peculiar gift to the donee when mounting a challenge. However late in the instance ofNathan v Leonard( 12 ) ,the Court had to see an application under the Act. Surely the no competition clause has the possible to deter donees from prosecuting their statutory entitlement. The inquiry the tribunal had to make up one’s mind was whether this possible hindrance meant the clause should be struck out as being contrary to public policy. The tribunal decided that while the no competition clause might so discourage an application it would non in fact prevent an application from being made under the Act.

In fact if such an application resulted in the applier losing their benefit under the will, this could be taken into history by the tribunal when finding the claim under the Act. The tribunal decided that a no competition clause will non be invalid simply because it purports to strip non merely the contesting donee but besides guiltless donees and nor will it be invalid because it may discourage applications under the Act. So the instance is truly a victory for testamentary freedom and the logical thinking of the justice illustrates the manner in which he sees the intent of the Act. The justice said

“…..the object of the 1975 Act is to guarantee that certain dependents of a deceased should non be left without proviso that is sensible in all the fortunes ; and the fact that the claim remains and will be determined in the visible radiation of the consequence of the status means that the object is attained irrespective of the status. I see no ground why policy considerations which can be attained in that manner should necessitate the status itself to be invalidated” . The justice summarised “…..a testate may dispose of his belongings as he wishes, nevertheless capriciously” . However once more this instance illustrates that although the rule of testamentary freedom of temperament remains, parliament has encroached on that general rule specifically to help those who may hold been unreasonably denied sufficient fiscal support. At the clip of doing the will, the testate can dispose of his assets as he wishes, but the Act is a precaution to protect those whom parliament ( and the tribunals through instance jurisprudence ) have classified as possible appliers.

The Law Commission for England and Wales published a Discussion paper in May 2006 in which it set out options for reform of the intestacy regulations as contained in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 with the purpose of including cohabitants within the range of its statutory strategy. However the preferable manner forward is non to widen the 1925 Act to include cohabitants, on the land that widening fixed rights to cohabitants would non take into history equitably the array of different factual state of affairss that exist. The Law Commission would prefer to see the Act adapted to suit modern twenty-four hours facts, state of affairss and outlooks.

If the 1925 Act was amended to include cohabitants, it could below the belt advantage person who had merely late set up place with the asleep and contributed really small to the family as against person who had a long term relationship and contributed a great trade. Under an amended jurisprudence both cohabitants would be entitled to the same portion of the estate all other things being equal. However this differentiation of the length of service of the relationship does non concern people when looking at the length of matrimony when a partner dies. If one partner has been married for 3 months and another for 25 old ages, they are both entitled to the same portion under the intestacy regulations.

It seems that the jurisprudence is still willing to give greater value and acknowledgment to person who is married as against a mere cohabitee. It appears to be the nature of the ceremonial or brotherhood that is created when straight persons get married or same sex twosomes undergo a civil partnership which is enforced by the jurisprudence.

The other practical consideration is that the present bounds of the statutory intestacy portions under the 1925 Act are deplorably low in position of the rampant house rising prices and general increasing wealth of many in recent old ages. The value of the statutory bequest available to partners and civil spouses has non increased since 1993.

On the other manus most intestate estates are on the little side and can normally merely afford to pay the statutory bequest anyhow with really small available for measure kids, for illustration, given the increased incidence of 2nd matrimonies. Several married twosomes own the household places as joint renters so that the deceased’s portion automatically passes to the subsister, with the consequence that he or she does non necessitate the statutory bequest merely to stay in the place. The subsister will besides have the statutory bequest to the hurt of the deceased’s issue or other relations. The Department for Constitutional Affairs( 13 )decided that the statutory bequest should be increased to reflect the modern twenty-four hours cost of life and outlooks of married individuals and in instances of existent adversity, the consequence could be mitigated by relations or others doing an application under the Act. So the Act has an of import function to play and has proved itself adaptable to embrace complex personal unconventional relationships that exist today. It will be the lone vehicle under which cohabitees-heterosexual and same sex- can dispute the intestacy commissariats of the 1925 Act and the temperaments and cogency of a will.

With consequence from 1 February 2002 in New Zealand, de facto relationships are treated the same as married twosomes for the intents of belongings division upon separation or decease. If the twosome had been populating together for at least three old ages the statute law equates the duties and rights of single twosomes to those of married twosomes.

It would hold been helpful if the Civil Partnership Act had explicitly amended the Act by infixing or “as if in a civil partnership” alongside the demand to be “living together as hubby and wife” , but the instance jurisprudence seems to be recognizing this anyway.

The Act recognises that household ties exist, non merely from the traditional relationship based on matrimony, but besides from the emotional and moral parts made by people to others in the lives that they portion. The Act can help the significance of household life instead than being preoccupied on the signifier of the household. The construct of household has changed a great trade embracing same sex civil partnerships and cohabitees. However the jurisprudence is still uncomfortable in giving cohabitees the same protection as partners or civil spouses, as so the significance of matrimony or the civil partnership would discontinue to be relevant.

It is about impossible to pass for the “perfect” system, whatever that is.

That is a really subjective impression and when faced with the altering dimensions of what and who constitutes household life, I think that the Judgess have strived to enforce the commissariats of the Act liberally so that the consequence is every bit just as it is possible to accomplish.

Even if the intestacy regulations are altered to let cohabitees to organize a group entitled to claim, does the jurisprudence so have to enforce a tiered system of the statutory bequest so that a cohabitee who has been in a relationship for 4 old ages receives more than one of ten old ages standing?

There are so many different aspects of “family” and how its impression has changed and may go on to alter, that the Act provides every bit good as system as it can leting the tribunals purchase to suit the Act to assorted complex fortunes.

Aquino T,Q and A Series Family LawCavendish Publishing, 1998

Dodd M,150 Leading Cases on Family Law, Old Bailey Press, 2000

Douglas G,Introduction to Family Law, Oxford Press, 2004

Templeman and Dobbs,Family Law. Old Bailey Press, 2000

Iwobi, A,Essential Succession,Cavendish, 2001

Pearce N.Inheritance Claims and Challenges,2004


  1. Barrass V Harding and Another ( 2001 ) 1 FLR 138
  2. B ( Deceased ) , Re ( 2000 ) 1 WLR 929
  3. Espinosa V Burke ( 1999 ) 1 FLR 747
  4. Re Watson ( 1999 ) 1 FLR 878
  5. Jelley V Iliffe ( 1981 ) 1 FLR 918
  6. Gully V Dix ( 2004 ) EWCA Civ 139 / ( 2004 ) 1 FLR 918
  7. Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza ( 2004 ) UKHL 30
  8. Fitzpatrick V Sterling Housing Association ( 1999 ) 4 All ER 705
  9. Saunders v Garrett ( 2005 ) WTLR 749
  10. Dingmar V Dingmar ( 2006 ) EWCA Civ 942
  11. Fielden & A ; Graham v Cunliffe ( 2005 ) EWCA Civ 1508
  12. Nathan v Leonard ( 2002 ) NPC, 79 The Timess


13Department of Constitutional Affairs: Reappraisal of the Statutory Legacy, 7 June


Legislative acts:

Administration of Estates Act 1925

Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants Act ) 1975

Law Reform ( Succession ) Act 1995

Human Rights Act 1998

Civil Partnership Act 2004

Library Search for Inheritance, Succession and Family jurisprudence texts.






Templaman and Dodds

Contentss hunt of Aquino:

Chapter 6 “Ending household Relationships”

Contentss hunt of Dodds:

Chapter 4 “Property Rights and Financial Provision on Death”

Search Douglas Chapter 6:

“The Death of a Family Member” pages 209-215 inclusive

Contentss hunt of Iwobi:

Chapter 7 “Provision for the Deceased’s Families and Dependants” .

Contentss Search of Pearce. Part 1, “A Guide to Inheritance Claims”

Chapter 1, “Introduction”

Chapter 3, “Claimants”

Chapter 4, “Basis of the Claim”

Chaper 5, “Matters to which the tribunal is to hold regard” .

Contentss search Templeman and Dobbs:

Chapter 8 “Property Rights and Financial Provision on Death” .

Internet resources:

Google hunt: Inheritance, Cohabitation and Family Provisions Act 1975

“Cohabitation & A ; Commitment: Inheritance ( proviso for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975” , by Miranda Allardice at hypertext transfer protocol: //familylawweek.co.uk.asp? p=1298

Google hunt: Testamentary Freedom and Inheritance Act Claims

“Inheritance Act Claims after White and Miller” , by Penelope Reed at hypertext transfer protocol: //familylawweek.co.uk.asp? p=2725

Google hunt: Family jurisprudence on decease

“Family proviso on Death: Latest Developments” , by Gareth Miller at hypertext transfer protocol: //familylawweek.co.uk.asp? p=2826


Google Search for Department of Constitutional Affairs, Intestacy.

Department of Constitutional Affairs. Administration of Estates: Reappraisal of the Statutory Legacy, 7 June 2005

hypertext transfer protocol: //www.dca.gov.uk/consult/estates/070605.htm

Cases ( primary beginnings ) :

Jelley V Iliffe ( 1981 ) 1 FLR 918

www.daiship.com/casejelley % 20 % 20illiffe @ 2055131981 % 5DY020Fam % 20128.htm

Gully V Dix ( 2004 ) EWCA Civ 139 / ( 2004 ) 1 FLR 918


Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza ( 2004 ) UKHL 30


Fitzpatrick V Sterling Housing Association ( 1999 ) 4 All ER 705


Nathan v Leonard ( 2002 ) NPC 79, The Times.


Fielden & A ; Graham v Cunliffe ( 2005 ) EWCA Civ 1508

www.familylawweek.co.uk.as? p=1446

Dingmar V Dingmar ( 2006 ) EWCA Civ 942

www.familylawweek.co.uk/library.asp? i=2255

Cases ( secondary beginnings ) :

Douglas G,Introduction to Family Law, Oxford Press, 2004:

Barrass V Harding and Another ( 2001 ) 1 FLR 138

B ( Deceased ) , Re ( 2000 ) 1 WLR 929

Espinosa V Burke ( 1999 ) 1 FLR 747

“Cohabitation & A ; Commitment: Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975” : hypertext transfer protocol: //familylawweek.co.uk/asp? p=1298:

Re Watson ( 1999 ) 1 FLR 878

Saunders v Garrett ( 2005 ) WTLR 749

Legislative acts ( primary beginnings )

“Blackstone’s Legislative acts on Family Law 2003-2004” ( Mika Oldham ) 12Thursdayerectile dysfunction:

Administration of Estates Act 1925,

Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants Act ) 1975

Law Reform ( Succession ) Act 1995

www.gov.uk/acts/acts/1995/ukpga19950041 en_1.htm

Human Rights Act 1998


Civil Partnership Act 2004

www.opsi, gov.uk/acts/acts2004/20040033.htm

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