Can An Adult Step Child Bring A Claim For Financial Provision

Will claim Solicitors, specialist no win no fee will dispute and will contest Solicitors, consider whether adult step children can bring a claim for financial provision

Claims by adult step children for financial provision

We considered this in some detail in our earlier blog in relation to a claim for financial provision under s. 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”). This is a claim which is made in circumstances where there is no or sufficient financial provision within a deceased’s step parents Will (for a step child) or under the rules of intestacy where there is no Will. For detail see:


In summary, we concluded that under the Act, an adult (or minor) step child could bring such a claim where it could be shown:

  • That he/she was being maintained either wholly or partly by the deceased prior to his/her death; or
  • That in relation to any marriage, civil partnership or otherwise in relation to any family in which the deceased stood in the role of a parent to the stepchild, that he/she was treated by the deceased as a child of the family.

What happens when (in the absence of any substantial maintenance pre-death) the step child was already an adult when his natural parent married the deceased?

In other words, what we are considering is whether it is still possible for the step child to bring a claim for financial provision under the Act where at no point has the step parent maintained or looked after him or her whilst he or she was a minor step son or daughter. Is it possible to claim that the deceased step parent treated the adult step child as a child of the family in this instance?

The leading case on whether the adult step child can bring a claim for financial provision under the Act is RE LEACH – LEACH V LINDEMAN AND OTHERS [1985] 2 ALL ER

This Court of Appeal decision provides guidance on when an adult step child (never brought up as an infant by the deceased step parent) can be said to be “a child of the family”. As is typical in such cases, there is broad guidance only; the court doesn’t want to unnecessarily limit itself. However, in broad terms the answer is “yes”; an adult step child who was never brought up by the deceased can bring a successful claim for financial provision under the Act.

The following are key factors which we have drawn from parts of the Judgment:

  1. The treatment (as a child of the family) isn’t exclusively the treatment during the currency of the marriage – it can be after the death of the natural parent but whilst the step parent was still alive.
  2. “What is the nature of the behaviour which will amount to treatment as a child of the family”?
    (a) Something more than a mere display of affection.
    (b) Treatment “as an unfledged person” or infant (minor or dependent child) is not necessary.
    (c) A first instance decision by Booth J in RE Callaghan [1984]3 All ER 790 was cited with some approval, in particular, the following passage

    “In this case the acknowledgment by the deceased of his own role of grandfather to the Plaintiff’s children, the confidences as to his property and financial affairs which he placed in the Plaintiff and his dependence on the Plaintiff to care for him in his last illness are examples of the deceased’s treatment of the Plaintiff as a child, albeit an adult child, of the family. All these things are part of the privileges and duties of two persons who, in regard to each other, stand in the relationship of parent and child; it is the existence of that relationship that enables the Plaintiff to apply under s 1(1)(d) of the Act. My view of this is not altered by the fact that in considering an application by a person coming within s1(1)(d) the court is required to have regard to the education or training of the applicant and must also consider the extent to which the deceased has assumed responsibility for his maintenance…I am satisfied that, following on his marriage to Mary, the deceased treated the Plaintiff as a child of the family within the meaning of s. 1(1)(d) of the Act”

    (d) The following actions were helpful in establishing treatment as a child of the family notwithstanding the applicant was always an adult step child in the course of the marriage:

    (i) the applicant was told during the currency of the marriage that she would be given money to pay the deposit to purchase a property;
    (ii) a room was kept for her in the matrimonial property;
    (iii) there were frequent visits even after the death of the natural parent;
    (iv) the applicant was frequently entrusted with personal confidences;
    (v) the applicant helped the deceased (step parent) after the death of her natural parent;
    (vi) the applicant was regarded by the deceased (step parent) as a “daughter” rather than a step daughter;
    (vii) the deceased (step parent) asked the applicant to act as her executrix and promised to leave her half of her house after the applicant’s natural parent had passed away and also asked her to make arrangements to look after her if she became incapable.

The above were considered cumulatively to be indicative of a relationship whereby the applicant was treated as a child of the family.

If you consider any of these facts and matters are of interest, are likely to apply to you, or you would like to ask us for more information about our no win no fee arrangement, or you simply want us to assess your claim, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential no strings chat and/or visit us at We provide details about our no win no fee arrangements at