Charities in Supreme Court over £500,000 Inheritance Dispute

12 December 2016

The Supreme Court is today hearing an appeal by three animal charities against a Court of Appeal decision in relation to an inheritance dispute. The outcome will be a landmark decision for the law in relation to adult children seeking to challenge their parent’s Wills if they feel they have been awarded an unreasonable amount.

The dispute was in relation to the deceased Mrs Jackson’s estate which she had left in her Will to three animal charities. This was challenged by her daughter, Mrs Illot, who had been estranged from her mother for 26 years, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

In July 2015, the Court decided that Mrs Illot should be awarded £143,000 in order to purchase her housing association home, plus a further £20,000 in a staged way to avoid there being any effect on her state benefits. The animal charities appealed the decision which is being heard today.

Head of Family Law at Co-op legal Services said, “It will be interesting to see whether the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeal decision which arguably made it easier for adult children who had not received what they considered to be reasonable provision from their parents’ Will to challenge the distribution of the estate.

“It also raises interesting questions of whether Mrs Jackson’s wish to leave her estate to charity may have been more difficult to challenge if Mrs Illot had been employed and earning sufficient money to maintain herself rather than in receipt of state benefits, and whether it is right that this should affect the outcome of the case and whether Mrs Jackson’s wishes are upheld.

“There are also question marks over whether it was right to structure the award in such a way that did not affect Mrs Illot’s entitlement to those benefits. The Court of Appeal also seemed to suggest that the fact that Mrs Ilott had not wanted to be estranged from her mother played a part, which may mean that if a potential beneficiary chooses to be estranged, they may suffer financially as a claim is made more difficult.”

For more information see Can My Will be Challenged?

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