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Want to disinherit your children? Take care!

In the case of Ilott v. Mitson, Melita Jackson passed away leaving an estate worth £486,000. She left her entire estate to charity and excluded her daughter, Heather Ilott. Mrs Jackson had not had a relationship with her daughter since she had left home when she was just 17. Mrs Jackson did not approve of Mrs Ilott’s partner at the time. They had never reconciled and Mrs Illot has been financially independent of her mother for over 26 years. Mrs Jackson left two letters with her Will explaining the reasons as to why she had not left anything to Heather and requesting that the executors defend any claim that her daughter may bring. 

Despite this, Mrs Ilott did make a claim against the estate in May 2007. At this time she was awarded £50,000 and District Judge Million referred to a number of factors for this decision, including the fact that she had limited financial resources. 

Not happy with being awarded just £50,000 Mrs Ilott appealed this decision seeking more of the £486,000 estate. The judge overturned the original case and reminded the Court that there is no concept of forced heirship in the UK. 

In 2011 Mrs Ilott brought a second appeal and the Court of Appeal which reinstated the award of £50,000. The original appeal seeking a larger award has now been re-heard and this time The Court of Appeal has ruled that she should receive a third of the estate stating that Mrs Jackson failed to make ‘reasonable provision’ for her daughter in her Will.

The implications of this are that although you can still disinherit your children, you will need to explain why and also show connections with those you are leaving money to. 

If you would like any advice or assistance in relation to preparing a Will, please contact the Wills Trusts and Probate Team