Disinheriting a child – Landmark ruling on inheritance –

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Ashley Wallace-Cook – Private Client Solicitor about disinheriting a child

A landmark ruling in the Court of Appeal has undermined the right of an individual to decide to whom they will leave their estate.

Melita Jackson died in 2004, having made a will leaving her estate to charities with which she had no prior connection, accompanied by a letter explaining that she had disinherited her daughter, Heather Ilott, who had eloped at the age of 17. Mrs Ilott now has five children and lives largely on benefits.

Heather challenged her mother’s will on the grounds that she had been ‘unreasonably’ excluded and was awarded £50,000, because her financial circumstances were ‘constrained and needy’ and her exclusion from her mother’s will had been unfair. The Court of Appeal has increased the award to £164,000, describing Mrs Jackson’s exclusion of her daughter as ‘unreasonable, capricious and harsh’. The Court of Appeal had awarded Mrs Ilott enough money to buy her council house. The Supreme Court agreed that, in principle, “reasonable provision for maintenance” could include housing.  But it emphasised that housing should normally be provided by giving a life interest, rather than a capital sum.

It may now be necessary when making a will to explain why you are disinheriting a child and demonstrate a connection with those to whom you are leaving assets.

If you would like to create a will or discuss your personal circumstances please email ashleywallace-cook@wspsolicitors.com or call 01452 411601.



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