A recent landmark case has seen a disinherited daughter successfully claim against her mother’s estate and be awarded an inheritance. So what does this signify for you?
The good news is that, despite the alarm this case has naturally caused, not much has changed when it comes to the law of wills and inheritance. Close family members, including spouse, children, or dependants of the deceased, are still able to make a claim if “reasonable financial provision” has not been made for them in the will.
However, this case does highlight the importance of making a will – and using a professional to do so, to help ensure it is as watertight as possible, should anyone make a dependency claim at a later date.
This case saw Mrs Ilott successfully claim against her mother, Mrs Jackson’s Will, and be awarded an inheritance of £164,000 from the £486,000 estate. This was despite Mrs Jackson leaving a Will that clearly stated she did not want her daughter to receive any part of her estate, and the fact her daughter was an adult and had not been financially dependent on her mother.
Mrs Jackson and Mrs Ilott had been estranged since Mrs Ilott eloped at the age of 17 with her boyfriend. In her 2002 Will, Mrs Jackson chose to leave her estate to three animal charities.
Following Mrs Jackson’s death in 2004, Mrs Ilott embarked on an eight-year legal battle which saw her awarded £50,000 under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This decision was later reversed when Mrs Ilott applied for a larger sum, before the Court of Appeal ruled in her favour in 2011. When she returned to the High Court to claim a greater amount, she was awarded £50,000 in March 2014, but in July 2015 she won her legal challenge and the Court of Appeal granted her the £164,000 inheritance.
Why This Case Matters
The Court decided that Mrs Ilott’s circumstances – namely, that she lived in housing association accommodation and relied on benefits – meant that Mrs Jackson had not made “reasonable financial provision” for her daughter and she had been “unreasonable” to cut her daughter out of her Will. Furthermore, the Court found that there was no evidence that Mrs Jackson had any connections with the animal charities or any interest in either animals or birds during her lifetime. This case also highlights the fact that if Mrs Jackson had not left a Will, then it is likely that Mrs Ilott would have been able to claim for a greater sum under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, thus emphasising the importance of making a will.
Leaving a Will enables you to look after loved ones after you’ve gone. Make sure you seek legal advice before making your Will or if you want to update your Will, as you may be able to plan against potential claimants by detailing the reasons behind your wishes.
For advice on making a will, please contact our specialist solicitors on 0800 988 3674 or email firstname.lastname@example.org