Total testamentary freedom in English law came to an end with the passage of the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938, since replaced by the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The Act introduced the family provision rule, which allows disinherited family members to apply to court for a financial award out of the estate. This paper critically re-examines the parliamentary proceedings, held between 1928 and 1938, which debated the merits of testamentary freedom and the need to limit the doctrine by introducing the family provision rule, then already in force in many of the Dominions. There were strong social arguments in favour of redressing unjust disinheritances, pitted against core values of personal freedom and private ownership. The paper will show that there were compelling merits in introducing the family provision rule and the Act has stood the test of time.
Richard Hedlund, The end to testamentary freedom, Legal Studies. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/lst.2020.5. Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 September 2020.