Advice for those left out of a will

Normally, the deceased’s estate would be distributed among the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. There are however a range of circumstances where you may be able to challenge a will where you feel you have been wrongly left out.

Specialist advice at a difficult time

There has been an increase in recent years of claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

The recent well reported case of Ilott v Mitson is a good illustration of the type of claim that can be made under the 1975 Act. Here, a long estranged daughter made a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 against her deceased mother’s estate because she had been disinherited and even though she was not financially reliant upon her mother.

The background of the case

The estate, which had total assets of just under £500,000, was left by the mother a Mrs Jackson to three animal charities (the RSPCA, the RSPB and The Blue Cross). During her lifetime the mother had had no real interest in these charities. The mother made a will and also made a point of leaving a letter explaining why she disinherited her only child. The reason she explained was because her daughter at age 17 had left home to be with a man (who she later married) whom the mother had disapproved, causing the estrangement.

The case was heard by a Judge at first instance who made an award to the daughter, this decision and award was subsequently appealed and the matter came before the Court of Appeal which resulted in an increased award to the daughter. The Court of Appeal in its judgment stated that they found the mother’s conduct unreasonable, capricious and harsh. The Court of Appeal awarded the daughter, who lived frugally and had long relied upon benefits, a third of the mothers’ estate. In a later development the charities have been given permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

The decision

The decision for the claimant provides further supporting case precedence for those seeking reasonable financial provision when they have either been excluded from a will or if they received less than reasonable financial provision under the intestacy rules.

This case is a good illustration of the type of claim that can be made under the Act. If you are involved in a dispute over a will or have suspicions over how a will was prepared it is important to contact a contentious probate expert.

For more information or to arrange a confidential meeting please contact Catherine Green.


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    We can help with...
    • Making a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975
    • Challenges to the validity of a will
    • Contesting a will