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Woman Cut Out of Will Loses Supreme Court Battle

21st March 2017

A woman who was cut out of her estranged mother’s Will lost her battle in the Supreme Court last week. The Ilott v Mitson case, which we reported on in December 2016, has come to a conclusion.

The case concerns Heather Ilott, whose mother Melita Jackson died in 2004 aged 70. According to the terms of Mrs Jackson’s Will, the majority of her £500,000 Estate was to be left to three animal charities, leaving her daughter without a single penny.

Before she died, Mrs Jackson wrote to her Solicitors to say that she didn’t want her only child to benefit from her Estate, and any claim made by Mrs Ilott should be challenged.

The two had fallen out in 1978 when Mrs Ilott left the family home, aged 17, to live with her boyfriend. The couple are now married and have five children together, but Mrs Jackson never reconciled with her daughter.

In 2007 Mrs Ilott challenged the Will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family Dependants) Act. She argued she had been unreasonably excluded from the Will, particularly as she had never wanted to be estranged from her mother in the first place.

A District Judge awarded her £50,000, but she went on to apply for a greater share of the Estate. There followed a long legal battle which worked its way through the High Court, the Court of Appeal and finally to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court heard that the three animal charities wanted to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision to award Mrs Ilott £164,000. Last week the Supreme Court found in their favour, meaning Mrs Ilott will now only receive the £50,000 she was originally awarded.

James Antoniou, Head of Wills at Co-op Legal Services said, “This decision by the Supreme Court highlights the importance of people having their wishes clearly set out in their Will and also, where possible, recording the motives behind why decisions were taken by them.”

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