Warning: Family Can Challenge Your Will
In a recent court case, a lady had left all her money to animal charities, but her estranged daughter, whith whom the lady had not had a relationship with for many decades, challenged the will, saying she had not been adequately provided for. The lady had made it very clear in her will that she did not want her daughter to get any of the money and explicitly instructed the executors of her will to fight any claim her estranged daughter might make after her death.
She won £50,000, but was not happy with that, so challenged the will again and won half of the half a million. The animal charities challenged the ruling and the amount to be awarded to the estranged daughter was reduced back to £50,000.
The fight for the money will have eaten in to the amount willed considerably.
This serves as a warning to make sure you talk to your solicitor about how to make your will so it will avoid such a situation, or at least to fight it if it happens.
Image: Heather Ilott has been embroiled in a decade-long battle with animal charities about the proceeds of her mother’s will. Source
That was a simplified version of what has happend, but here are the details:
- 2002: Melita Jackson makes her last will with a letter explaining she had disinherited her only daughter after she walked out of the family home in 1978 to live with her boyfriend
- 2004: Mrs Jackson dies, aged 70
- 2007: Heather Ilott challenges the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act and is awarded £50,000 on the basis she had been “unreasonably” excluded, but when she applies for a larger share of the money, a High Court judge reverses the decision to award it to her in the first place
- 2011: The Court of Appeal rules Mrs Ilott is entitled to a share of the money after all
- 2014: Mrs Ilott loses a battle to get a larger share of the money at the High Court
- 2015: The decision was successfully challenged at the Court of Appeal and Mrs Ilott is awarded £164,000
- 2017: Three animal charities set to benefit from the majority of Mrs Jackson’s estate win a Supreme Court challenge, resulting in Mrs Ilott’s sum being reduced to the original £50,000
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