A daughter who had been cut out of her Mother’s Estate has successfully challenged the Will and been awarded £164,000 by the Court.
In Ilott v Mitson ( EWCA Civ 797) the Court of Appeal has confirmed that a Will which fails to make reasonable provision for an adult child can be challenged. Once the threshold test has been met, the question is one of quantification. The successful appellant was estranged from her late Mother who made no provision for her in her Will, instead leaving her Estate to three animal charities.
A challenge was brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”); initially Ms Ilott was awarded £50,000, then appealed to the High Court and eventually to the Court of Appeal who have now awarded her £164,000, about 1/3 of the net Estate.
It is rare for an adult child who can work to succeed in a claim under the Act. Here the Court of Appeal appears to have been influenced by the fact that the Mother had no connection with the charities during her lifetime and that they had no financial “need” whereas Ms Ilott clearly did. An award under the Act is in the discretion of the Court and all such cases are fact specific. It is unlikely that this case will see the floodgates being opened but two messages flow from the judgments – (1) if making a will, leave clear & cogent instructions why an individual who would otherwise be a beneficiary is being excluded and (2) if you are a disappointed adult beneficiary the door does appear to have been pushed ajar.
Such claims require specialist legal advice. Please contact the partner at Hunters having responsibility for your legal matters, or (for new enquiries) please contact a member of our Dispute Resolution team or our Family team, or our Private Client team to discuss your Will.