Could Your Will be Contested?

You may have read the story which unfolded recently about a lady that received £164,000 inheritance money from her deceased mother after going to court. Controversy surrounded the case, as she received the money against her mother’s wishes.

Going to Court

After an argument, Mrs Jackson took the decision to withhold her estate from her daughter in the event of her death, leaving everything to numerous charities. Mrs. Ilott, Mrs. Jackson’s daughter, took the matter to court and was awarded £164,000 of the £500,000 estate, despite having been deliberately written out of her mother's will.

Does this set a precedent whereby estranged relatives can claim right to an estate, despite not being included in a will? Well, not quite.

Special Circumstances

Mrs Jackson had no obvious connection or allegiance to the charities that she had left money to. It seemed quite clear that she had left her estate to these charities solely to prevent her daughter from receiving the funds. What’s more, Mrs Ilott relied heavily on state benefits, as well as having to provide for 5 children. According to Michele Todd, writing for Keeble Hawson Solicitors: “If Heather Ilott had been better off - and if Melita Jackson had had an established a connection with the charities - the outcome could have been completely different”.

Writing Your Will

While this case was unusual, it is clear that the integrity of the inheritance system is intact. If you are unsure whether or not your wishes will be carried out in the event of your death, you may wish to seek advice from professionals. We also have advice on will writing in an earlier blog post, with 5 reasons why you should write a will today.