Last year Ilott v Mitson caused a stir in the world of inheritance act claims. The case will be revisited by the Supreme Court next week.
Very briefly, Mrs Jackson left her £486,000 estate to various charities to the exclusion of her only child, Mrs Ilott. Mrs Ilot and her mother had been estranged for some 26 years. Mrs Ilot made a claim on her mother’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 on the basis that she and her family had a very low income and lived on state benefits. In July 2015 the Court of Appeal awarded Mrs Ilot £143,000 to buy a home and extra cash of £20,000.
The case has been criticised for its perceived restriction on testamentary freedom, yet the long established provisions under the Act have always permitted specified individuals, including adult children, to challenge the provisions of a Will on the basis that reasonable financial provision has not been made for their “maintenance”. However, save for spouses, these claims are limited by this maintenance standard.
The Supreme Court will consider the correct approach to this maintenance standard; the hearing due to take place on Monday 12 December 2016. Another update will follow once judgment has been handed down including the implications for both testators and applicants under the Act.
If you wish to make a claim against an estate, or need to defend such a claim, please contact our Probate Disputes Team who can provide expert advice.