The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of three animal charities who had challenged the decision of the Court of Appeal to award £160,000 to a daughter who had been left out of her estranged mother’s Will.
Heather Ilott’s mother left most of her estate to three animal charities – the Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals .There was no provision for even a penny to go to her estranged daughter. Mrs Ilott contested the Will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for “reasonable financial provision”. That legislation allows children of deceased parents to apply for an order if reasonable provision has not been made for them in the Will.
Mrs Ilott was an unemployed mother-of-five with no pension, and was living on state benefits. She was initially awarded £50,000 from the estate by a district Judge in 2007, but the Court of Appeal subsequently increased this to £140,000 to buy her Housing Association Property, and another £20,000 structured to allow her to keep her state benefits.
The charities appealed that decision and the case went to the Supreme Court, saying they wanted to “affirm the importance of testamentary freedom”. The Court of Appeal decision was overturned and the amount awarded to the estranged daughter reduced to the initial award of £50,000. James Aspden, the Solicitor acting for the three animal charities said the Supreme Court had upheld a “vital principle”
“It reaffirms in a unanimous sense from the highest court in the land that principle that we're all free to choose who will benefit when we die”
Huw Worthington is the Senior Partner of Worthingtons Solicitors and specialises in Wills and Administration of Estates. Should you have any queries in relation to this article, or require legal advice on making a will, contact our Belfast or Newtownards office.