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Challenging the Terms of a Will: New Developments

You may recall that in July 2015 a woman, Heather Ilott, who had been cut out of her mother’s Will, obtained a Judgment in the Court of Appeal entitling her to one-third of her late mother’s estate.

Mrs Illot first went to court in 2007 after her mother, Melita Jackson, left her entire £486,000 estate to the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross animal charities when she died in 2004. Mrs Illot had been estranged from her mother for 26 years after eloping at the age of 17. The two had barely spoken since that time, although there had been some brief attempts at reconciliation. Despite the separation Mrs Illot challenged the terms of her late mother’s Will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975, arguing that the Will did not make reasonable provision for her.

Now, in the next twist in the long running tale the Supreme Court has granted permission for the animal charities to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal. Whilst claims of this type are not uncommon they are almost always decided on their specific facts. As such it is to be hoped that the Supreme Court takes the opportunity to give more general guidance on making Wills where beneficiaries have been left out and remove some of the uncertainty in this important area of law.

If you wish to make a Will, update your existing Will or take advice on leaving legacies please contact our head of Wills & Probate Department, Erica Burt-Moore, on Alternatively, if you wish to take advice on challenging a Will then please contact Andrew McManus on

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