Fifty-year-old woman challenges charities over mother’s estate

10 February 2011

A Hertfordshire mother of five is asking the England & Wales Court of Appeal to grant her reasonable provision from her own mother’s will, which left the entire GBP486,000 estate to animal charities.

The woman is 50-year old Heather Ilott of Great Munden. Her mother Melita Jackson died in 2004 aged 70, having executed her last will in 2002. This will divided Mrs Jackson’s estate among the Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

At the same time she made the will, Mrs Jackson wrote to Heather explaining that she was being disinherited because she had eloped at the age of 17, leading to a long (though apparently intermittent) estrangement.

Heather Ilott challenged the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. In 2007 a district court granted her GBP50,000 from Mrs Jackson’s estate. But that award was overturned by the High Court in 2009.

Now Mrs Ilott is appealing to EWCA. She claims she has two minor children, but no earning capacity or pension, and her family income in 2007 was only GBP14,000. Her counsel argues that Mrs Jackson’s will was “irrational” given that Mrs Ilott is in financial need.

Opposing Mrs Ilott’s claim, the charities say she had lived independently of her mother for 26 years and could not now expect support. “This Act was not created to protect 50-year-olds from being cut off without a shilling”, their counsel told the court. “Need is not enough to make non-provision unreasonable.”

Judgement has been reserved.




Scottish Daily Express

PA (via Morpeth Herald – link may expire)



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