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Landmark ruling on "reasonable financial provision" in your Will

A landmark ruling on a case concerning a last Will and Testament has caused a buzz in the legal world.  We assume that our last Will and Testament will be honoured when we die, particularly if we have had it written up by a respected and competent solicitor but a recent, well publicised case could mean that this may not be the case.

The Heather Ilott case is interesting for a number of reasons but mainly that she successfully challenged her dead mothers Will and eventually overturned it to claim £164k in inheritance.

A quick summary of this case involves a mother who became angry at her only daughter after she eloped to Australia at the age of 17 with her boyfriend (who she later married and had 5 children with).  The mother, Melita Jackson, instructed her Will to be written excluding her daughter from her £486,000 estate and instead nominated 3 animal charities at random to receive the funds.

When Mrs Jackson died in 2004, aged 70, her daughter challenged the Will in 2007 under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act which states that a there must be “reasonable financial provision” in the Will for family and dependants.  She was successful in her claim that she had been “unreasonably” excluded by her mother but was only awarded £50,000

Heather Ilott was disappointed with the outcome and applied for a larger share of the money in 2011.  A High Court judge then decided to reverse the original decision to award and left her disinherited, but then in 2014 a high Court ruled she was entitled but again only to the original sum and then at the Court of Appeal  she was awarded a £164,000 inheritance which equates to a third of the estate.

Mrs Ilott has five children and plans to use the inheritance to buy their housing association home.

This case should be an eye opener not only to those who think their last Will and Testament is watertight but also to those who have been unreasonably excluded from their family’s inheritance.

The key seems to be the question of ‘reasonable financial provision’ and what that entails.  

For more information on this either as someone who has a Will or is thinking of writing a Will or as someone who has been excluded from a Will then contact our team of Wills, trusts and estate planning solicitors today. If you would like to learn more about our probate services call us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1979 345, or complete our simple enquiry form.


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