Supreme Court Judgment sees Charities triumph in Will dispute

Wednesday 26th April 2017

New Supreme Court Judgment sees Charities triumph over the deceased’s daughter in a dispute over Will

In 2002 Melita Jackson made her last will making no provision for her daughter Mrs Illot who had walked out of the family home in 1978. After her mother’s death in 2004, Mrs Illot challenged the Will on the basis that she had been unreasonably excluded. The Supreme Court held on 15th March 2017 that Mrs Illot was only entitled to £50,000, not the £164,000 which the Court of Appeal had initially awarded. Mrs Illot’s challenge was opposed by the charities referred to as beneficiaries in the Will.

Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act (IPFDA) a person can challenge the provisions of a Will if they do not feel they have been adequately provided for as a family member or dependent of the deceased. When assessing any application the courts will ask two main questions:-

Firstly the courts will consider what reasonable financial provision for the applicant might be. Here the courts take into account numerous different factors including; the finances of the applicant, the size of deceased’s estate, the relationship between the deceased and the applicant, future needs, and obligations or responsibilities between the parties and the interests of other relevant parties.

Only if the court, when taking into account all these factors decides that reasonable provision has not been made, will it then look at what is reasonable.

When making its decision in this case, the Supreme Court stated “there had been a failure of reasonable financial provision, but that what reasonable provision would be, was coloured by the nature of the relationship between mother and daughter”.

Equally, the High Court when deciding its initial award of £50,000 in 2014 stated that “Although the respondent charities had no claim, moral or otherwise, on the deceased “the courts nonetheless “had to pay regard to the fact that that was the way that the deceased had chosen to bequeath her assets.”

This case illustrates the difficulties and complexities that can be involved when ascertaining whether reasonable financial provision has been made by a Will, and confirms that estrangement may not be a justified reason to provide nothing financially for an adult child of the deceased or a dependent (whether or not a child of the deceased).

If you think that you might be able to claim under the IPFDA then please contact our Debts and Disputes Team. or if you are acting as an Executor of an estate subject to such a claim. We act for both Executors and Applicants alike and are highly experienced in dealing with such claim.

Author: Administrator

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