The Court of Appeal have ruled that a daughter can overturn her estranged mother’s will. And this landmark case could pave the way for others to do the same.
The deceased Melita Jackson wrote a letter explaining why she was not leaving a penny of her estate to her daughter and only child, Heather Ilott, who eloped when she was 17. She instead left her assets of around £486,000 between The Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Heather Ilott took her case to the Court of Appeal and has now been awarded £163,000 by its judges on the basis that her income was “not reasonable” for her maintenance and future, as she is on benefits and has no pension.
Law experts have warned more wills could be challenged by surviving adult children following the ruling.
The award sees Mrs Ilott having £143,000 to buy her rented home from a housing association, and an extra £20,000 as “additional income”.
Mrs Jackson became estranged from her daughter in 1978 when, aged 17, Mrs Ilott left home to live with her soon-to-be husband Nicholas Ilott.
The couple have five children and live in Great Munden, near Ware, Hertfordshire. The judges said they earn “very small incomes” and their monthly expenses were “modest”.
In a judgment handed down on Monday, Lady Justice Arden said: “This is a case where the court can and should make reasonable financial provision out of the deceased’s estate for the appellant’s maintenance so that her living expenses are relieved without affecting the state benefits on which she relies.”