In re Dennis (Deceased): 1981

The now deceased father had made lifetime gifts to the son. The son now faced substantial liabilities for capital transfer tax, and asked the court to provide for his from the estate under the 1975 Act.
Held: The claim failed. The payment of the applicant’s debts was not for his maintenance, because there was nothing to suggest that payment of those debts would do anything to help his future maintenance. Browne-Wilkinson J said: ‘the court is reluctant to make further provision for someone for whom large sums of money have been provided and which have been dissipated by him.’ It should ask whether there is ‘a case fit to go to trial’.
Browne-Wilkinson J said:’The applicant has to show that the will fails to make provision for his maintenance: see In re Coventry (deceased) . . [1980] Ch 461. In that case both Oliver J at first instance and Goff LJ in the Court of Appeal disapproved of the decision in In re Christie (deceased) . . [1979] Ch 168, in which the judge had treated maintenance as being equivalent to providing for the well-being or benefit of the applicant. The word ‘maintenance’ is not as wide as that. The court has, up until now, declined to define the exact meaning of the word ‘maintenance’ and I am certainly not going to depart from that approach. But in my judgment the word ‘maintenance’ connotes only payments which, directly or indirectly, enable the applicant in the future to discharge the cost of his daily living at whatever standard of living is appropriate to him. The provision that is to be made is to meet recurring expenses, being expenses of living of an income nature. This does not mean that the provision need be by way of income payments. The provision can be by way of a lump sum, for example, to buy a house in which the applicant can be housed, thereby relieving him pro tanto of income expenditure. Nor am I suggesting that there may not be cases in which payment of existing debts may not be appropriate as a maintenance payment; for example, to pay the debts of an applicant in order to enable him to continue to carry on a profit-making business or profession may well be for his maintenance.’


Browne-Wilkinson J


[1981] 2 All ER 140


Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975


England and Wales


CitedIn re Coventry dec’d ChD 2-Jan-1979
The court set out the general approach to applications under the 1975 Act: ‘these matters have to be considered at two stages – first in determining the reasonableness of such provision (if any) as has been made by the deceased for the applicant’s . .
CitedIn Re Coventry (deceased) CA 3-Jan-1979
The deceased’s adult son sought provision from the intestate estate. The sole beneficiary under the rules was the plaintiff’s mother. The estate was modest; the intestate’s interest in his house (he had been living there with the plaintiff). The . .

Cited by:

CitedIlott v Mitson and Others CA 31-Mar-2011
The claimant, the estranged adult daughter of the deceased, had claimed under the 1975 Act. The judge made an order for payment of andpound;50,000 by way of capitalisation of maintenance. The claimant appealed saying she should have received more, . .
CitedGarland v Morris and Another ChD 11-Jan-2007
The claimant sought additional provision from her father’s estate. She said that the will failed to make reasonable provsion for her, bearing in mind her extreme financial needs. She was a single mother of three.
Held: The claim failed. . .
CitedIlott v The Blue Cross and Others SC 15-Mar-2017
What is reasonable provision for daughter
The deceased had left her estate in her will to several animal charities. The claimant, her daughter, had been estranged from her mother for many years, and sought reasonable provision from her estate under the 1975 Act. The district judge had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Wills and Probate

Updated: 02 May 2022; Ref: scu.431728