Inheritance Act claims could rise after Court of Appeal ruling

Inheritance Act claims could rise after Court of Appeal ruling

What could happen when a relative discovers that he or she has been left out of a will? A recent court case highlights how one woman successfully challenged her mother’s will.

Following a judgment in a recent Court of Appeal case adult children may be encouraged to challenge wills where they consider that their parents have not made reasonable provision for them.

In Ilott v Mitson the court heard that Melita Jackson had left an estate worth £486,000 to the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross animal charities after her death in 2004. Her daughter, Heather Ilott, aged 54, challenged the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Mrs Ilott, had left home with a boyfriend at the age of 17. Mother and daughter had become estranged and despite attempts at reconciliation, Mrs Jackson had apparently never forgiven Mrs Ilott and excluded her from her will, making it clear she did not want her daughter to inherit anything.

The Court of Appeal determined that Mrs Ilott, who has five children, was not given a reasonable provision from the estate for her future maintenance as she was on benefits and had no pension.  They also found that Mrs Jackson had no connection with those particular charities during her lifetime.
Mrs Ilott was awarded £143,000 to buy the rented home she lives in from a housing association and a further £20,000 in cash as additional income.

The ruling means that although we still have a principle of complete testamentary freedom in this country and individuals are still able to disinherit their children if they wish, they will need to have a good reason why and be able to explain what connects them to the people or organisations that they have chosen to include in their wills instead. Consequently adult children who have been left out of wills may find it easier to challenge them if they have not been left a reasonable provision.

If you are making a will and want to do your utmost to ensure that your wishes are followed to the letter, there are certain safeguarding provisions you can incorporate to ensure compliance.  If you would like to update your will please contact one of our will experts at Parry Carver in Wellington and Shifnal.