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Will my wishes for what should happen on my death be honoured?

Peter Levy, Consultant and Solicitor in Astle Paterson’s Wills & Probate department, discusses the impact of the decision made in Ilott v Mitson.

Peter said “In the case of Ilott v Mitson, the late mother, Melita Jackson, left her full estate to four charities.    Melita’s daughter Heather Ilott, from whom Melita had been estranged for twenty six years, did not benefit at all under her mother’s Will.

Heather subsequently made a claim to the Court for reasonable provision to be paid to her from her late mother’s estate.

At first instance, Heather’s claim was allowed by the District Judge but was limited to an award to her of £50,000.00.   Heather appealed and asked the Court of Appeal to award her a greater sum from her mother Melita’s estate.

The Court of Appeal ultimately awarded Heather £143,000.00 from her mother’s estate to enable Heather to purchase a house together with a further £20,000.00 to meet Heather’s future income needs.

In doing so the Court of Appeal effectively overturned Melita’s wishes as set out in writing in her Will.

However, it was inferred by the Court of Appeal that Melita had no connection during her lifetime to the nominated charities and therefore she had given away her entire estate purely with the purpose of excluding her daughter, Heather.”

Peter continued “The Court of Appeal’s decision has caused concern that the fundamental principle of testamentary freedom has been undermined.

However, this case is very fact-specific and, in general, there is no need for people to be concerned about their recorded wishes not being complied with.

It does, nevertheless, emphasise the importance of seeking professional legal advice when making your Will or planning for your future, to ensure that any potential claims against your estate on your death can be explored and appropriate advice can be given as to how best achieve your wishes.”

Please contact Peter Levy of Astle Paterson’s Wills & Probate department on 01283 531366 or by way of email at plevy@astlepaterson.co.uk to discuss matters further.   

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