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Charities win appeal over the amount awarded to estranged daughter in her mother’s will

The Supreme Court recently made its decision in the eagerly-anticipated case of Ilott v Mitson.

In absence of making a provision for her daughter in her will, Mrs Jackson left most of her estate to a number of charities.  In the original court decision, the district judge held that, despite being estranged from her mother for most of the 26 years before she died, the will did not make reasonable financial provision for Mrs llott and she was subsequently awarded £50,000. The amount was essentially tripled on appeal and Mrs Ilott was awarded £143,000 to buy a house and £20,000 in instalments by the Court of Appeal.  

The charities listed as beneficiaries challenged this increase, stating that people should be able to choose who actually benefits from their will. The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the charities’ appeal and held that Mrs Ilott would only receive the original £50,000 awarded by the district judge.

The key principle arising from this judgment is that when a child makes a claim against a parent’s estate, any provision is limited to maintenance only. The Supreme Court held that this would be satisfied by the original £50,000 awarded. Basically, the facts of this case merited an award of £50,000 and no more.

In our experience the standard of what would be reasonable is subjective. Each case turns on its own facts. However, the principle remains that a child can claim for reasonable financial provision but the value of their claim may be restricted.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39278921 for further details. To discuss this or similar matters please do not hesitate to call our team or use the form on this page.