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Daughter in Ilott V Mitson Will case loses in Supreme Court

The Illot Vs Mitson case is a long running case , 13 years to be exact, which many people in the legal profession have been following with interest as it is the first time a woman has successfully challenged a last Will and Testament which left her mother’s entire estate to three charities – the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross.

She claimed that it had been done out of spite and without consideration of her financial hardships and therefore made no provision.  Initially the court ruled against the challenge but then the Court of Appeal overruled the initial decision on the basis that the mother should have made some sort of provision for her daughter.

The charities decided to take the case to the Supreme Court who have now ruled in favour of the charities. The Supreme Court judges overturned the increased provision made by the Court of Appeal for the estranged daughter and went further by providing information and analysis on assessing what is meant by ‘reasonable financial provision’.

Lady Hale’s highlighted the lack of guidance in present law when it comes to evaluating claims for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Inheritance Act).

She remarked on “the unsatisfactory state of the present law, giving as it gives no guidance as to the factors to be taken into account in deciding whether an adult child is deserving or undeserving of reasonable maintenance.”

Fortunately, the decision by the Supreme Court suggests that claims should be limited to maintenance which will please the huge number of charities in the UK who depend on legacy payments left to them in Wills and also to private clients who are concerned that their wishes may not be followed through and challenged by family members.

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