Daughter Awarded £164,000 After Mother’s “Unreasonable” Will is Overturned

Date online: 14/08/2015

A RECENT COURT RULING that has made legal history could mean that Wills deemed unreasonable by courts may now be overturned or varied.

Senior judges at the Court of Appeal awarded £164,000 to a daughter after her mother deliberately cut her out of her Will, instead leaving her estate worth nearly £500,000 to three animal welfare charities, namely: the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and The Blue Cross.

A London court heard that Heather Ilott’s mother, Melita Jackson, had never forgiven her daughter for eloping with her boyfriend when she was just 17 and so completely cut her out of her Will and left her no inheritance.

Driven by a lifetime of serious financial hardship, Heather Ilott, 54, battled through the courts for over a decade to get her mother’s Will overturned.

Mrs Ilott lived on state benefits and in local authority housing.  She had never had a holiday at the time she brought an action under the 1975 Inheritance Act claiming that she had been denied ‘reasonable provision’ from her mother’s estate.

“The 1975 Act enables relatives and dependents to claim against an estate even when a Will is found to be valid,” said Peter Rhodes, Partner at Molesworths.

In 2007 a District Judge considered the case and  awarded Mrs Ilott £50,000 but she appealed the decision.  After further consideration the Court of Appeal awarded her £164,000, concluding that her deliberate exclusion from her mother’s  Will had been “unreasonable, capricious and harsh.”

“This case is really interesting as it highlights an apparent shift in favour of claimants, especially  those in dire financial hardship,” said Mr Rhodes.

“The court’s decision in favour of this claimant had the specific intention of allowing her to buy a home of her own. It took into consideration that Mrs Jackson, when alive, had shown no interest in the charities named in her Will. It emphasised that it considered Mrs Jackson’s actions to be unreasonable and unacceptable.

“Careful consideration is needed by those intending to make a Will, especially if they are thinking of cutting someone out of their inheritance.”

For further information or advice on making or adjusting a Will, in respect of this recent court ruling, please contact Peter Rhodes – Partner.


Peter Rhodes is a partner at Molesworths Bright Clegg Solicitors with extensive experience in many areas of law. If you would like to speak to Peter regarding any Will or probate matter, please do not hesitate to contact our Wills & Probate Department on 01706 356666 or at mail@molesworths.co.uk  or email Peter directly on 01706 767413 or at prhodes@molesworths.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Molesworths Bright Clegg is a firm of solicitors established in the United Kingdom and is registered with theSolicitors Regulation Authority.

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