Ilott v Mitson - The Supreme Court Ruling

Ilott v Mitson - The Supreme Court Ruling

Ilott v Mitson – The Supreme Court Ruling

by | Inheritance

After almost 10 years, the most famous will challenge in recent English case law has reached a conclusion.  This is the first time the Supreme Court, the House of Lords, has ever ruled on an inheritance issue.

The case was brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.  The Act allows those who feel a will has not made sufficient provision for them to appeal their share – or lack of!

In this case, an estranged daughter challenged her mothers will.  Her mother had left all her wealth to charitable causes – her testamentary right of freedom allowing her to do so.  The test for suitable provision is open.  Each case must be judged on its own merits.  It seems that in the past decade, the judgement has not been an easy one to make.

The first hearing awarded the daughter £50,000 of the nearly £500,000 estate.  She appealed.  The Court of Appeal agreed she deserved more, gifting her £143,000 to purchase a house and $20,000 for additional income.

This was appealed again, to the Supreme Court.  The case has been much debated in the passing years, as legal bills grew.  The decision was highly anticipated.

The Supreme Court has reinstated Mrs Ilott’s original £50,000 award.

The Supreme Court’s decided that the Court of Appeal was wrong to interfere with the amount granted by the first instance judge.  This was based on the evidence presented.

Now that the case is resolved, there are bigger questions for the legal profession.  This is a win for testamentary freedom.  But is the current law sufficient?  Even the judge’s decision highlighted the ‘unsatisfactory’ legislation.

So if you are thinking of omitting a dependent from your will, you have the testamentary freedom to do so.  But be cautious.  Those omitted have a right to claim and your lifetime of wealth could disappear in lawyers fees rather than to your loved ones.

 

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