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The Supreme Court has today (15 March) revealed its judgement in Ilott V Blue Cross and Ors; a case that many expected to ‘open the floodgates’ for similar inheritance disputes.
The court ruled in favour of the charities following an appeal into the case centred on the claimant who had been excluded from her mother's will. The claimant’s mother, Melita Jackson, bequeathed her estate, worth around £500,000, to the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross animal charities.
Commenting on the case, Elizabeth Young, head of Private Client at Roythornes, said: “While many feared that this case would set a new precedent and require a change in approach to the naming of heirs in wills, I believe that the outcome was predictable as the Supreme Court was not empowered to undermine the overarching principle of testamentary freedom. Had the claimant’s straightened financial circumstances not been considered of such importance under the applicable legislation (The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975) the case wouldn’t have reached this point.
“The specific details and complexities of this case made it distinctive and generated a high level of interest as it was seen to ‘buck a trend’. But the Court must treat each case in isolation, taking into consideration a whole range of elements.
“The decision reinforces the message that, as a nation, testamentary freedom is considered a prerogative, as opposed to the imposition of something akin to the forced heirship rules such as are common in some of our European neighbours and something that perhaps further distinguishes us as we face the post-Brexit world.
“In the absence of exceptional circumstances, we should not interfere in the wills of the deceased, no matter how unfair this result may be.”
The award has reverted to the initial sum of £50,000.
For further information about Roythornes, or to contact the team for advice on wills and estates, please visit: www.roythornes.co.uk