Challenges To Your Will – Recent Case Law

Under English law, you can leave your estate to whoever you wish. However this has been challenged in the recent case of Ilott v. Mitson which has recently featured in the newspapers following a judgment on Monday 27th July 2015.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 sets out several different categories of people who have a right to bring a claim against a Will if they believe that they have not been reasonably provided for. Heather Ilott, the daughter of the deceased (Mrs Jackson), would have fallen into one of these categories but it has historically always been more difficult for adult children to bring a successful claim as there would have to be exceptional circumstances.

In this particular case, the Court ruled that the fact that even though Mrs Ilott had had limited contact with her mother in the 24 years since she left home to marry a man she disapproved of, was not sufficient grounds for her mother to have totally excluded her from her Will. Mrs Ilott’s own financial position was taken into account and also the fact that her mother had very little to do with any of the charities she had listed in her Will.

Mrs Jackson’s net estate was valued at £486,000 and her daughter was awarded an amount of £143,000 to purchase the home that the family live in and also £20,000 for further income needs. The remainder of the estate would pass to the three charities her mother had originally envisaged inheriting her estate.

This ruling will potentially encourage more claims by adult children who have been excluded from their parent’s Will.

How we can help

We would always advise coming in to see one of our qualified lawyers to discuss your Will and how any such claim can be mitigated, including but not limited to:

  • keeping a full note of our discussions on our file and in particular detailing the reasons why any exclusion was being made;
  • advise a testamentary capacity report from a medical professional qualified to provide such a report; and
  • advising on a letter of wishes and the contents therein.

For more information on our range of legal services including Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Deputyships, Trusts, Tax and Administration of Estates, please ring 01452 509002.

Janine Guthrie

Chartered Legal Executive

This material does not give a full statement of the law. It is intended for guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be accepted by Tayntons (LS) Limited. July 2015

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