Private Client Update: August 2015

Challenging financial provision to adult children and wills: Ilott v Mitson is not the end of the world as we know it

The recent case of Ilott v Mitson is perhaps now one of the most widely known contested probate cases. Many will have heard that Heather Ilott, a disinherited adult child, brought a claim against the estate of her deceased mother for reasonable financial provision and received an award of £164,000 in the Court of Appeal.

There have been many sensational headlines, including those which say that your will can now be ignored. However, that is not the case, and some media reports have failed to explain what the law says and the reasoning behind the Court of Appeal’s decision

The facts

The law

the financial resources and financial needs of the applicant;

the financial resources and financial needs of any other applicant;

the financial resources and financial needs of any beneficiary of the estate of the deceased;

4. any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards any other applicant or beneficiary of the estate of the deceased;

the size and nature of the net estate of the deceased;

any physical or mental disability of any applicant or beneficiary of the estate of the deceased; and

any other matter the court may consider relevant (which may include the deceased’s wishes or the contents of the will).

Decisions of earlier courts

The recent decision

The Charities had their own resources and they had no specific needs which needed to be taken into account.

Mrs Ilott lived independently and she was not supported by the deceased. The court was therefore not concerned in providing her with an income that would fully support her needs.

The role of the courts is to ensure, in the case of an adult child, reasonable financial provision for maintenance only.

The estrangement should not deprive Mrs Ilott of award. There was no suggestion she wanted to be estranged from her mother, she had made a success of her life as being a mother / homemaker (even if her mother disapproved of those choices) and it was difficult to apportion the blame for the estrangement on either side.

In the case of Mrs Ilott, who was reliant on state benefits, reasonable financial provision needed to be such that it preserved those benefits. This meant that she was given an award to acquire the house and a maintenance figure which did not affect the entitlement.

A change in the law?

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.