Daughter is granted £163,000 after overturning mother’s wishes in will

Hertfordshire resident, Heather Ilott, overturns her mother’s will that had planned to disinherit her, in a landmark court appeal – granting her £163,000.

In 2004, Heather Ilott, daughter of Melita Jackson, witnessed a shocking discovery upon the death of her mother; not inheriting a single penny of her mother’s £486,000 estate. Mrs Jackson is believed to have felt betrayed by her daughter, after having eloped with her partner at the age of 17 – something Mrs Jackson had never been forgiven for.

Mrs Ilott, who later married her partner and had five children, planned to utilise her expected fortune to purchase a housing association home for her family, which soon came to an abrupt end.

Mrs Jackson had decided in her will that her fortune was to be split between the animal welfare charities: The Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). After discovering her mother had no connection to any of the charities listed, Heather was left infuriated and eager to take legal action.

Shortly after her mother’s death in 2004, aged 70, Heather decided to take her fury and feelings of injustice to the Court of Appeal. The judge’s response was sympathetic towards Heather, ultimately deciding her mother’s request was simply not reasonable in terms of Heathers’ maintenance and future. This was valid due to her lack of pension and that she was receiving benefits.

Heather’s confusion in terms of identifying the connection between her mother and the charities was also noted by the judges. This was a deciding factor into their decision that Jackson’s will should be overturned, leaving Heather with a lump sum of £163,000.

This landmark ruling is one that could pave the way for similar cases to arise, which is something law experts believe to be true. The discovery that surviving adult children could challenge their lack of inheritance, is something that could revolutionise future will writing.

Gary Rycroft, a member of the Law Society’s wills and equality committee, issued a warning following the incident, stating that if you are going to disinherit your children, it must be justified — which is alarming to the will writing industry.

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