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Woman Omitted From Mother’s Will wins £164,000

A woman who was left out of her mother’s will has been awarded £164,000 after she took the case to the Court of Appeal in what many are deeming a landmark case.

Heather Ilott took legal action after she was left out of her mother’s will who left her £486,000 estate to a number of animal charities rather than her only daughter. Melita Jackson who died in 2004 had little connection to these charities but did not leave a penny to her only daughter after they had fallen out when Mrs Ilott had eloped at the age of 17.

Landmark Case

The court ruled that Mrs Ilott, who has five children with her husband, was awarded one-third of the estate because her mother had failed to leave “reasonable provision” for her in her will. Although her mother had updated her will two years before her death, Mrs Ilott was still able to receive a part of the inheritance. 

Mrs Ilott had initially been awarded £50,000 in 2007, but a Court of Appeal overturned the decision resulting in the award eight years later. In the latest hearing Lady Justice Arden said Mrs Ilott's mother had been "unreasonable, capricious and harsh" and ruled she should receive a greater proportion of the estate.

While Mrs Ilott, who has lived in poverty for most her life, can now buy her property and afford a few luxuries, many have been critical of what the ruling means for those wishing to leave an inheritance and omit someone close to them from their will. Many experts have stated that such a ruling will mean disinherited or disenchanted children will be able to make a claim if they are omitted from a will.

The charities who had contested the decision deemed that they were surprised and shocked, especially with the will being updated so recently. The solicitor representing them said it was a "worrying decision for anyone who values having the freedom to choose who will receive their property when they die".

Making and Contesting a Will

The issue highlights the danger of making a will and not informing those involved of what it contains and having your will backed up by another party. To make a will watertight it is important to have it created a reviewed by a solicitor and to ensure that it takes into account all family circumstances.

If you wish to remove someone from a will, then it is important that people are informed and that your justification is worthwhile. Despite this, it is still possible to contest a will. Therefore, we strongly advise that you ensure your will is as up-to-date and accurate as possible.

Contact Us

If you require legal advice in planning or drafting a will we urge you to contact our team of solicitors. While many people are tempted by cheap DIY wills or will-writing services, it is vital that you ensure your will is suitable to leave an inheritance after you are gone. If you wish to speak to us regarding making or even contesting a will, contact our family law experts today using our online contact form.

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