The Supreme Court will today hear an appeal in the case where an estranged daughter is challenging her deceased mother’s will, which left her estate to charity and disinherited her child.
In the case of Ilott v Mitson, an estranged daughter, Heather Ilott, challenged her mother, Melita Jackson's, will after discovering it left her entire estate to charity. In July 2015, the Court of Appeal granted Ilott an award of over £163,000 of her late mother's estate, despite the fact that she had not spoken to her mother for 26 years prior to her death and the fact that her mother had explicitly stated in her will that her decision was not to be challenged by Ilott.
Roman Kubiak, partner in the contested wills, trusts and estates team at Hugh James said: “Whilst the freedom to leave your wealth in whatever way you choose is one that many of us take for granted, the Supreme Court now has to balance that right against the needs of relatives and those claiming dependency on a deceased person.”
“The court is going to decide whether the stated wishes of the deceased should be respected, or whether a daughter who is looking to claim a share of the estate should receive anything on the basis that, on her case, she needs financial provision.”
If the court rules in favour of Ilott, it could potentially trigger a wave of claims by disinherited children who will attempt to claw back money left to others.
Kubiak adds: “It would also, albeit incorrectly, throw into question the purpose of writing a will– why write a will if a court can disregard your clearly-expressed wishes?”
This is the first time in history that a case involving the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act first introduced in 1938, will come before the Supreme Court.”