Warning as Will is ignored in court

A landmark Court of Appeal ruling could leave more Wills open to future challenges by relatives.

A woman whose late mother left her entire estate to animal charities has recently been awarded a six-figure pay-out.

Heather Ilott will get £164,000 after initially being left nothing by her mother Melita Jackson, who died in July 2004 at the age of 70.

Mrs Jackson wanted her estate of £486,000 to be split between The Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The appeal judges ruled in Mrs IIlot’s favour, stating that her income was ‘not reasonable’ for her future as she was on benefits and had no pension.

Experts have warned this could prompt a trend in disgruntled relatives appealing against a Will.

Stephen Parr, partner at WHN Solicitors, believes those who do want to divide their assets without involving their children or spouses could be leaving themselves open to future claims.

He commented: “Making a charitable donation through a Will is hugely popular and this ruling could be a game changer.  Whether it is down to a family fallout or assuming the family doesn’t need the inheritance, those wanting to pass on their estate to charities and cut out relatives could now be open to a legal challenge.

“The case of Melita Jackson and her estranged daughter Heather should really serve as a warning for those people who are looking at making a Will to take appropriate action to guard against similar claims.

“One of the ways to protect your wishes is to legally document your reasons, explaining why and how you are going to do things, also showing connections with those you are leaving the money to. “An expert solicitor can help you with this, giving you peace of mind that only your listed beneficiaries will gain from your Will.”