Mrs Melita Jackson had her Will Contested because she excluded her only child Heather from her Will, which was written in 2002. Mrs Jackson’s reason for the exclusion was because she had been estranged from her daughter Heather since she eloped at the age of 17 with her boyfriend who she later married and had 5 children with. Instead Mrs Jackson gifted her entire estate to charities which she hadn’t had previous connections to. Mrs Jackson had left a side letter to her Will explaining very clearly her reasons for her actions. However in 2007 a district judge awarded Heather £50,000 and then in July 2015 at the Court of Appeal Heather was awarded a third of Mrs Jackson’s £486,000 estate because it was said by the Court her mother hadn’t left “reasonable provision” for her daughter.
The Ilott v Mitson case will make it easier for adult “disinherited” children and possibly spouses and step-children to challenge Wills and claim greater sums by way of “reasonable provision”. So please be mindful of the possible outcome if you chose not to gift to immediate family first. You will need very good cause to give to the other beneficiaries, if a charity you should be able to demonstrate that you have supported this charity during your lifetime.
With all these thoughts in mind can I please ask you to review your current Will. If a close family member has been disinherited or is only to benefit from a small gift is this still your wish? What about possible court costs and the potential upset to the family, these questions need to be considered.