Stacked pound coins, inheritanceToday brings into sharp focus the topic of inheritance as three animal charities have won a case against a daughter who was cut out of her mother’s Will.

In 2014, 70-year-old Melita Jackson left the majority of her £486,000 estate to three animal charities, with little provision for her daughter Heather Ilott, from whom she was estranged. Mrs IIott made her initial appeal for ‘reasonable financial provision’ from her mother’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and was awarded £50,000 by a district judge in 2007. The Act means that the child of a deceased parent has the right to apply for an award if they believe that a Will fails to make reasonable provision for them. The initial figure was later increased to £160,000 by the Court of Appeal in 2015.

The animal charities challenged this later ruling suggesting that the appeal judges ‘fell into error’ in making the decision to triple the amount. It has been agreed that Mrs Ilott will receive only the initial amount of £50,000.

Ruth Heap, Head of our Wills and Probate department stated, ‘this test case highlights the importance given to the final wishes of the person who made the Will.’ She added, ‘it also brings into sharp focus that the concept of making fair provision for a disinherited family member does not outweigh the rights of the beneficiaries mentioned in a Will.’

If you have any questions about inheritance, or making a Will, please contact Ruth for a free, no-obligation discussion about your circumstances.