In Nahajec v Fowle [2017] EW Misc 11 (CC), an estranged child successfully claimed £30,000 from her father’s estate despite his letter of wishes explicitly disinheriting all of his children.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows the court to intervene where a disposition of the deceased's estate is not such as to make reasonable financial provision for the applicant. It should therefore be given some consideration when looking at Estate planning.

  • The deceased had three estranged adult children, all of whom were omitted from his will. He left a letter of wishes specifically disinheriting all three, stating that they were sufficiently financially independent as to need no provision from him.
  • His entire estate of £265,710 was left to a long-time friend and his executor, Mr Fowle.
  • One son had already made a successful claim against the will. The other son was not looking to make a claim.
  • Other than a brief period several years before his death, the deceased had had nothing to do with his 31-year-old daughter, the applicant, for over 18 years, despite her repeated attempts to re-establish the relationship.
  • The grounds of the claim were that the terms of the will failed to make reasonable financial provision. She requested a total of £59,000 to enable her to retrain as a veterinary nurse.

The court found, on the facts, that the key features of the operation of the Act had been met.

  • The applicant’s financial resources were limited, she lived a modest lifestyle, her debts came from a period of ill health and she was claiming tax credits.
  • There were no other applicants to consider.
  • The defendant had not fully accounted for the estate funds and had indulged in some extravagant spending after he became aware of the applicant's claim.
  • There were no obligations for the deceased to provide for either applicant or defendant.
  • It was right for the court to consider the applicant's wish to retrain as part of her maintenance needs.

It concluded that the will did not make reasonable financial provision for the applicant.

Whilst the applicant may not have expected her father to pay for her ongoing education and maintenance, his conclusion that she was sufficiently financially independent as to require no provision from him, was incorrect.


This case reminds us that testamentary freedom in the UK is restricted by the provisions of The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and of the burden on executors.

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Nahajec v Fowle [2017] EW Misc 11 (CC)

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