Inheritance laws

The laws surrounding inheritance are set to experience some changes following a review carried out by the Law Commission. The Commission’s recommendations for change are presented in its report titled “Review of succession law: rights to a person’s property on death”.

The Law Commission aims to simplify the law of inheritance which has previously been dictated by several different statutes, including the Family Protection Act 1955, the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and the Administration Act 1969. It is hoped this is achieved by streamlining the old statutes into one Act to be titled Inheritance (Claims Against Estate) Act.

140 recommendations have been put forward. A number of these key recommended changes include:

  • Children over the age of 25 would not be able to contest their parents’ wills if they feel they have not been fairly provided for.
  • Stepchildren would be recognised and given the power to make a claim.
  • The court would have greater power to access trusts to prohibit people from using trusts to stop someone from inheriting.
  • In the event of separation, if one partner dies, the surviving partner would be able to make a claim against the estate up to two years after separation, or up to five years if there is a strong case.

These changes aim to simplify the current law of succession whilst recognising modern family arrangements and the changing social climate, although some of these changes have been met with criticism.

Any of the changes recommended are unlikely to be implemented for a number of years, however it is always recommended to review your personal matters on a regular basis. If you have any queries or concerns surrounding these changes and what impact it may have on you, please reach out to us.


Anna Graham