Wills which do not make reasonable provision for family members – Court Case in progress
This week the Supreme Court will hear a case that should clarify the law on challenging wills on the grounds that they do not make reasonable provision for family and dependents. Animal charities are appealing a Court of Appeal decision in July last year in favour of Heather Ilott, who had been excluded from her mother Melita Jackson’s will.
Jackson left her estate, worth around £500,000, to charities. She had excluded her daughter after she left home with a boyfriend as a 17-year-old.
In the initial hearing, the High Court awarded Ilott £50,000. Both parties appealed: Ilot claimed she had not been awarded enough while the charities said it was too much. On appeal, Ilott, who is in her fifties, was awarded £143,000 - to buy the rented home she was living in - plus an extra £20,000 for additional income.
The Court of Appeal said Ilott, who has five children and was on benefits and without a pension, was not given a reasonable provision in the will.
The appeal in Ilott v Blue Cross and Ors, filed by the Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, will ask whether the appeal court was wrong to set aside the initial award and to allow Ilott to preserve her entitlement to state benefits.
Hopefully once the case is heard the Judgment will provide clarity to the Inheritance Act 1975 and set out the guidelines for when challenges can be brought to wills based on inadequate provision and set out the criteria which must be met in order to disinherit adult children.
We are always available to give advice on wills. In addition Emma Northover and Stephen Fisher Crouch are specialist in the area of contested probate Please contact Emma , Stephen or any of the Private Client Team from the Our Team section of the website for further information.