Posted in Private Wealth
There was much publicity over the recent battle of a woman to get an increased sum of her mother’s estate, following a battle with three well-known animal charities.
As wills and trusts experts in London, we at Pindoria Solicitors had a special interest in the case of Heather Ilott who had been left out of her mother’s Will.
She had been awarded more than £160,000 by the Court of Appeal in 2015 after her mother, Melita Jackson, with whom she had nothing to do with, left most of her £486,000 fortune to charities.
Yet, the Supreme Court justices overturned a decision ruling that an order made by a district judge in 2007, that Mrs Ilott be awarded just £50,000 should stand and Court of Appeal judges later intervened and more than tripled the figure. Now though, the daughter is left with just the £50,000 agreed at the 2007 hearing.
The whole story is a sad tale about an only child, who was rejected by her mother at the age of 17, back in the 1970s, after she left home to live with her boyfriend.
Despite marrying Nicholas Ilott, with whom she had a family with, and attempts at reconciliation the rift continued. It was never sorted out and when 70-year-old Mrs Jackson died in 2004 she cut her daughter out of her Will.
She chose instead to give much of the money to charity, and The Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals fought the case. They argued that the appeal judges made an error when deciding to increase the pay-out.
After the victory, the charities praised the decision and said in the majority of cases “the wishes recorded in a person’s will must be respected.”
Although, it is very unfortunate for Mrs Ilott, we have to agree as The Supreme Court’s ruling shows that in the vast majority of cases we are free to choose who will inherit our legacy after we pass on.
The ruling clears points to where the law seemed foggy and will enable lawyers drafting Wills to give more assured advice.
Vitally, it sends out the message that a Will matters. We wish to emphasise this as there are more contested wills cases than at any time in history.
This tale also acts to remind people of the importance of making a will. Pretty-much everyone should do our best to commit to make one, because there is no ideal time to make a will and doing so provides great comfort to those you care for.