The dispute over whether a woman’s estate should pass to her daughter or to a number of charities is to be settled in the Supreme Court.
The case involved a woman who fell out with her daughter because she eloped with a boyfriend when she was 17. The daughter later married the boyfriend and now has five children.
However, she and her mother were estranged for 26 years and never reconciled.
The mother made a will leaving all her estate, valued at £486,000, to various charities.
Following the mother’s death, the daughter challenged the will. The judge found in her favour and said that the mother had not made reasonable financial provision for her.
However, he decided that any financial award he made for her should be limited because she had managed for many years on limited resources and had a lack of expectation.
He awarded her £50,000. The daughter appealed because she would lose a greater amount in state benefits than she would gain from the award.
Last July, the Court of Appeal held that the judge had made fundamental errors in his approach which meant that his award should be set aside. It awarded the daughter a total of £163,000.
Many legal experts believe that if the Court of Appeal ruling is allowed to stand, it could lead to an increase in the number of people challenging their parents’ will if they feel they have not been provided for adequately, especially if they are in financial difficulties.
It could also mean that parents wishing to leave their children out of their will may have to give explicit reasons for their actions and outline why they want their estate to go to other people or organisations instead.
The Supreme Court will now consider the issues later this year. Their ruling could influence the way wills are drawn up in the future.
Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.
 EWCA Civ 797
HEATHER ILOTT v (1) DAVID ROBERT MITSON (2) MICHAEL PETER LANE (PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE DECEASED) (3) THE BLUE CROSS (4) ROYAL SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF BIRDS (5) ROYAL SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS (2015)
CA (Civ Div) (Arden LJ, Ryder LJ, Sir Colin Rimer) 27/07/2015