Independent Adult Children, under the 1975 Act

March 4, 2024

Independent Adult Children, under the 1975 Act

Last Wednesday brought the return of another IDR Contentious Clinic. Hosted by solicitors Henry Straw and Georgina Coates and supported by head of marketing Lindsay Gibson, the clinic gave a knowledgeable overview of independent adult children claims under the 1975 Act. It examined the factors that the court considers when dealing with such claims, recent caselaw, the application of these factors on real IDR cases and helpful tips to consider going forward.

The Talk

Covering a variety of relevant points, starting with an introduction to “the 1975 Act” with a focus on independent adult children as claimants. Henry Straw began by establishing what constitutes reasonable financial provision in adult children claims and what orders the court can make. The clinic looked to factors such as Section 1(2)(b) of the 1975 Act, that applicants must show that they have not been left with ‘reasonable financial provision for his/her maintenance’, the ‘maintenance standard’, and ‘needs-based claims’. Then, in the address of what orders the court can make, Henry Straw examined matters such as an order for periodic payments, a lump sum payment, and the transfer of property within the estate, along with many others.

Further, Georgina Coates looked to case law examples to answer the question of how easy it is to succeed as an adult claimant under the 1975 Act. The clinic referenced and explained cases where adult children were awarded nothing, such as ‘Ball v Ball [2017]’ and ‘Wellesley v Earl Cowley [2019]’ – whilst also touching on cases where adult children were successful, for example ‘Nahajec v Fowle [2017]’ and ‘Rochford v Rochford [2021]’.

Additionally, Georgina Coates explained in depth the factors the court must consider concerning independent adult children claims. For instance, the finances and resources of all claimants/beneficiaries now and in the future, the size and nature of the estate, and any disabilities of any applicant or beneficiary, to name a few. Georgina Coates then drew the clinic’s attention to section 1(1)(d) of the 1975 Act – “treated as a child of the family”. Where the court has regard to matters including whether the deceased maintained the applicant, to what extent the deceased assumed responsibility for the applicant’s maintenance’ and ‘whether in maintaining or assuming responsibility for maintaining the applicant the deceased did so knowing that the applicant was not his own child’.

Then, to explain this further, the clinic turned to the examples of recent cases, such as ‘Re Larsen and another v Annan [2023]’, to illustrate how the court approaches these types of cases. At this point in the clinic, Henry Straw looked to one of IDR Law’s own cases to provide an example of such a claim and how such cases may be settled before making their way to court. Henry gave an inciteful overview of the case and usefully unpacked the client’s claim under section 1(1)(c) of the 1975 Act as a child of the deceased. The clinic followed the process of this claim, examining the will that was left, the intentions of the estate, the subsequent application of section 3 factors and then, ultimately, the outcome of the case.

To conclude 

A very inciteful clinic, Henry Straw pointed to IDR Law’s own 1975 Act Claim Checker. He gave a helpful summary of a variety of practical considerations to keep in mind when tackling such claims. This included guidance on matters such as the growing number of claims, the importance of thorough will writing, the six-month time period in which claims should be made, the costs and litigation risk and many more. At the close of a very successful Contentious Clinic, Lindsay Gibson looked forward to IDR Law’s next Contentious Clinic, which will be hosted by Partner Eleanor Stenson and will address the litigation process required for the 1975 Act.