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Inheritance Act claims could rise after Court of Appeal ruling

Rules clarified on reasonable provision for adult children

The Court of Appeal's judgment in Ilott v Mitson [2015] EWCA Civ 797 may encourage adult children to challenge wills where they consider that  their parents have not made reasonable provision for them.

The Court of Appeal heard that Melita Jackson had left an estate worth £486,000 to the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross animal charities after her death in 2004. |Her daughter, Heather Ilott, now 54, challenged the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Mrs Ilott, now 54, had left home with a boyfriend at the age of 17. Mother and daughter had become estranged and despite attempts at reconciliation, Mrs Jackson had apparently never forgiven Mrs Ilott and excluded her from her will, making it clear she did not want her daughter to inherit anything.

The Court of Appeal has now determined that Mrs Ilott, who has five children, was not given a reasonable provision from the estate for her future maintenance as she was on benefits and had no pension.  They also added that Mrs Jackson had "no connection" with the charities during her lifetime.
Mrs Ilott was awarded £143,000 to buy the rented home she lives in from a housing association and a further £20,000 in cash as "additional income". This constituted an increase from the £50,000 awarded in the High Court.

Paula Myers, Partner with Irwin Mitchell, said:

"This ruling means people can still disinherit their children but they will have to have a good reason why and be able to explain what connects them to the people or organisations that they have included in their wills instead.

"This means that adult children who have been left out of wills may find it easier to challenge them if they have not been left a reasonable provision. It provides further clarity to the Inheritance Act 1975."

The judgment is here.