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Daughter cut out of Will loses animal charities fight that went on for over a decade

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Posted in: Wills and probate
Date published: 16/03/2017
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What happened?

In 2002 mother, Melita Jackson, made her last will and testament with a letter explaining that she had disinherited her daughter after she walked out of the family home in 1978, to live with her boyfriend. Ms Jackson left almost all of her £486,000 estate to the Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). She later died in 2004 having never reconciled her differences with her daughter.

Daughter, Heather llot (an only child) challenged the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act and was awarded by a District Judge in 2007 the sum of £50,000 based on being “ unreasonably” excluded.

When Ms llott, who thought that the award was not generous enough, later applied for a larger share of the estate, a High Court Judge reversed the decision to award the £50,000 to her in the first place. Then in 2011, the Court of Appeal ruled that Ms llott was entitled to a share of the money after all.

The matter was taken back to the High Court in 2014 where Ms llott again lost her appeal to get a larger share of the estate. Remarkably though in 2015, the High Court decision was challenged in the Court of Appeal and Mrs llott was awarded £164,000.

Charities win case

Fast forward to now (March 2017), when the three animal charities benefiting from the Will win a Supreme Court challenge, which results in Mrs Llott’s overall sum being reduced to the original award of £50,000.

A spokesman for the charities said “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has given welcome assurance that – save in limited and specific circumstances – the wishes recorded in a person’s will must be respected”.


The court in this case ultimately upheld the mother’s wishes, and although the daughter inevitably received £50,000 it was from an estate worth £486,000. The charities challenge stemmed from the general principle that people should be free to choose their beneficiaries and the Court saw fit to uphold this principle.

Moving forward from this important decision, we may now see claims against parent’s wills become more difficult, certainly where financial circumstances of the beneficiary are thought to be less strained.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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Iwona DurlakSenior Partner

Wills & Probate – IMD Solicitors LLP

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