Reasonable Provisions and Life Interests

When taking into account claims made under the ‘Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975’ ( ‘ACT 1975’) the Courts apply a ‘Two-stage’ test:

  • They consider whether the ‘Will’ or ‘Intestacy’ of the ‘Deceased’ failed to make reasonable financial provision for the ‘Applicant’.
  • Secondly, they ask as to what extent they should exercise their powers to make provision for the ‘Applicant’, provided the answer to that first question was ‘no’. It is this first part of the test that is important here, when answering the question of ‘whether a life interest granted in a will is ever reasonable financial provision’.

What is ‘Reasonable Financial Provision’?

In this section we look in more detail and provide a basic overview to this question; there are two ‘standards of reasonable provision’ which are applied depending on who the ‘Applicant’ is. The ‘Surviving Spouse Standard’ and the ‘Maintenance standard’.


  1. A) The ‘Surviving Spouse Standard’ is always applied where the applicant is the spouse or civil partner of the deceased. This standard can also be applied where the applicant is the ‘Former Spouse’ or ‘Civil Partner’ and they have not remarried, but it is up to the court’s prudence. The ‘Surviving Spouse Standard’ is the higher standard of provision and expects provision of more than what would be required for just maintenance (section 1(2)(a) ‘1975 Act’).
  2. B) The ‘Maintenance Standard’ is applied to all other types of ‘Applicant’; i.e. cohabitants, children or those treated as children of the deceased, and those being maintained. This is a lower standard and only requires that the ‘Will’ or ‘Intestacy Made Provision’ that it would be reasonable for the applicant to receive for their own maintenance (section 1(2)(b) ‘1975 Act’).

After taking into account whether ‘Reasonable Provision’ has been made, the courts will and must also consider a range of other factors set out in section 3 of the ‘1975 Act’. There are in total ‘Eighteen’ other ‘components’ to consider, although not all of them will apply to every case. These other ‘components’ are relevant to a claim and must be considered equally. Below are a number of examples of some of the components that are considered. It is prudent to realise that these points are considered based on the ‘Facts at the time of the claim’, not at the ‘Date of the will’ or the ‘Deceased’s death’:

(I) The ‘Financial Resources’ and ‘Needs’ of the applicant now or in the            foreseeable future,

(ii) The ‘Financial Resources’ and ‘Needs’ of any other applicant,

(iii) The ‘Financial Resources’ and ‘Needs’ of any beneficiary under the                          ‘Will’,

(iv) The ‘Size’ and ‘Nature’ of the estate,

(v) The ‘Age Of The Applicant’ and ‘Duration Of The Marriage (if a          spouse),

(iv) The ‘Physical’ or ‘Mental Disability’ (or Incapacity) of the applicant or            any beneficiary.

We now arrive at the question of –  whether a ‘Life Interest’ is ‘Reasonable Provision?

Is a ‘Life Interest Reasonable Provision?

(‘A life interest (trust) included in a Will is a legal entity which is set up in such a way that allows assets belonging to the deceased to be placed within the ‘trust’ for the benefit of a named individual, usually the surviving spouse, known as the ‘life tenant’.)

With a basic understanding of how these claims are assessed hopefully we can see how this is an impossible question to give a definitive answer on. To ‘Assess’ whether a ‘Life Interest’ is likely to be sufficient we need to consider:

a – what the ‘Life Interest’ covers,

b – what other ‘Provision’ has been made for that person if any, and

c – what other ‘Financial Resources’ that person has available to them.

Another consideration is their relationship to the ‘Testator’ as this will affect what ‘Standard Of Maintenance’ would be applied if they did bring a claim.

A ‘Life Interest’ is classed as an ‘Asset’ but if it produces none or very limited income it may not be ‘Reasonable Provision’ if the ‘Will’ does not also make further capital available to the ‘Life Tenant’, or if they lack any sufficient means of their own. Conversely, a ‘Life Interest’ over assets that produce sufficient income for the ‘Life Tenant’ to maintain themselves according to the standard that applies to them, may be perfectly reasonable.

The courts have been known to award ‘Life Interests’ to applicants in ‘ 1975 Act’ cases, which should give some indication that of course, these types of interest can be more than sufficient.


An example of this can be seen in the case of Banfield v Campbell [2018] ENGLAND & WALES HIGH COURT 1943 (Ch). The court awarded a ‘Life Interest’, the case outcome saw over half of the proceeds of the deceased’s home being given to her surviving partner rather than a lump sum. It was decided that this was more appropriate, as it would avoid assets passing to the claimant’s family instead of the deceased’s child.

In conclusion, identifying whether ‘Life Interests’ are ‘Reasonable Financial Provision’, is evidently not clear or straightforward. Hopefully, as the reader, you now have a clearer understanding of what conditions would be considered if a person were to be awarded a ‘Life Interest’ and did wish to bring a claim taking advantage of the ‘Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependants 1975 Act’.

If you would like any further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us:
3C Legal Limited
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