Say you’ve made a Will, it’s your Will, it’s your money, presumably if you have mental capacity you can leave your money to whomever you wish. This is what the late Melita Jackson believed when she left most of her Estate to charities but not a penny to her daughter, Heather Illot, who challenged the Will.
The estranged daughter was initially warded £50,000 by the Judge, the mother’s Estate which she was cut out of, was worth in the region of £500,000. The ward was then tripled on Appeal, the Charities challenged this increase saying people should be free to choose who they wish to leave their monies to, the Court agreed and Mrs. Illot then received only the original amount.
The story after death creates the drama there was in life. Mrs. Illot, the only child, says she was rejected by her Mother at the age of 17 after she left home to live with her boyfriend whom she later married. They never reconciled their differences, there was no contact and therefore Mrs. Jackson left nothing to her daughter but almost everything to the Blue Cross, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It seems in 2007 when Mrs. Illot appealed her Mothers Will she was living on State benefits and had no pension. The sum was increased in 2015 in order to allow Mrs. Illot to buy her own Council property. The Court ruled that Mrs. Illot would otherwise face a life of poverty because she was on benefits and could not afford to go on holiday or buy clothes for her children. The award was given despite that fact that Mrs. Jackson, who died in 2004, made it crystal clear she did not want her estranged daughter to have a penny of her money. This was reiterated to Mrs. Jacksons solicitors by a letter she wrote prior to her death. She explicitly instructed the Executors to fight any claim made by Mrs. Illot after her death. The Supreme Court Justices were told that the Appeal against that increase had been brought by the animal charities largely on principle because of the possible impact on other cases. The Supreme Court re-established the original award of £50,000.
The claim was brought under the Inheritance Act which allows provision for family and dependants in reasonable circumstances. If you are seeking to exclude a family member from your Will or seeking to dispute non-provision in a Will GET ADVICE. Contact us on 01953 883535.