The recent news that an estranged daughter who had had no contact with her mother for 26 years is entitled to a third of her mother's estate, even though her mother had totally disinherited her from her Will, has raised the question of whether it's worth writing a Will if your wishes are to be ignored by the Courts.
Mrs Jackson, who died in 2004, left an estate worth £486,000 to three chosen charities. She completely excluded her only child, Mrs Ilott, so she inherited nothing. Mrs Ilott took the case to Court and in 2011 she was awarded £50,000 under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. Mrs Ilott then appealed this decision on the basis that she was entitled to more money. The Court of Appeal decided that she was right and awarded Mrs Ilott £163,000.
The Inheritance Act 1975 allows several different classes of people, in this case a child, to make a claim against a deceased person's estate if they have not received reasonable financial provision. Even if the child has been estranged from their parents for a long period of time and lived independently of their parents, they can still make a claim under the Act. In this case the Court considered the size of the estate, the resources and needs of the charities and the needs and resources of the child.
So, this raises the question for many about why it's worth writing a Will in the first place. Although in England you are free to leave your assets to whoever you want, sometimes, as in this case, those wishes can be challenged. Taking proper legal advice at an early stage will ensure that as far as possible your wishes are carried out. Our member lawyers can advise you on all of your options so that you are fully informed about how best to proceed in any situation, whether you are giving instructions for a Will or looking to challenge the provisions of a Will.
Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.