Charities win challenge to six-figure award made to daughter left out of mother’s Will

23rd March 2017

Charities win challenge to six-figure award made to daughter left out of mother’s Will

The sanctity of making a Will has been upheld by the Supreme Court, which has overturned a decision to increase the sum of money left to a woman by her estranged mother, who left her entire £500,000 estate to three animal charities.

Melita Jackson left most of her estate to charities but not a penny to her daughter, Heather Ilott, when she died in 2004.

In 2007, Mrs Ilott was awarded £50,000 by a judge, which was tripled on appeal four years later. But the charities challenged the increase, saying people should be free to choose beneficiaries, and the court agreed she would receive only the original amount.

Mrs Ilott, who is in her 50s, had made an application under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for “reasonable financial provision” from her mother’s estate.

The court heard that she had been rejected by her mother at 17 after she left home in 1978 to live with her boyfriend, Nicholas Ilott, whom she later married.

Attempts at reconciliation failed, and when Mrs Jackson died 12 years ago her Will made no provision for her daughter, by then a mother of five, who had no pension and received state benefits.

Most of the £486,000 estate was left to the Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Before her death in 2004, Mrs Jackson wrote in a letter to lawyers: “I can see no reason why my daughter should benefit in any way from my estate. I have made it clear to my daughter… that she can expect no inheritance from me when I die.”

James Aspden, the solicitor acting for the three animal charities, said of the decision: “It reaffirms in a unanimous sense from the highest court in the land that principle that we’re all free to choose who will benefit when we die.”

How can Gotelee help?

A reluctance to talk about death is understandable – it’s the ultimate eventuality many of us spend our lives trying to ignore.

But failing to properly prepare for the future by making a Will can leave those we care the most about facing unnecessary pressures at an emotionally fraught time.

Our specialist team of lawyers can meet you at one of our offices, Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge or Melton and can guide you through the process of making a Will, to ensure all your wishes are carried out just the way you want.

Gotelee can also advise on the general procedures of administering an estate, obtaining the Grant from the Probate Registry and distributing the estate in accordance with the Will or the intestacy rules if there is no Will.

To find out more, call 01394 388605.

Practice Areas
Court of Protection
Power of Attorney
Trusts and Tax
Blog Posts

Why women mean business…


Today is International Women’s Day, the annual celebration of the social, economic, cultural and…

Read More
Upcoming Events

Inheritance Tax and Wills Planning Seminar


What the seminar will cover... Inheritance Tax: - When does it apply; what are…

Read More
News Posts

Events Firm is the Only Show in Town After Move to New Home


An expanding Ipswich events business is taking centre stage after moving into a new…

Read More


"Everything was dealt with in a compassionate and friendly manner"

- AW

"Pat's service is always extremely efficient and very approachable"

- AO

"Relieved that I could leave you to deal with the legal aspect of my late husbands estate"

- DG

"We cannot thank you enough for all your hard work and sticking with us. You have been amazing and showed a lot of patience when dealing with this case and all for no reward for yourself, thank you."

- Dean Kentfield

"Approachable, very efficient, always willing to take my calls and update me."

- SH

"We were very pleased to have Jade as our solicitor, the service was excellent and we felt kept in the loop which minimised stress"

- CT

"I have used Tracey Hammond at Gotelee on a number of occasions and in my opinion, she is simply the most efficient conveyancing solicitor I have ever worked with. From the outset, she took the time to understand my specific business requirements and to date, she has exceeded all of my expectations."

- Dale Fiddy - Portobello Developments Ltd

"I don't think this house sale would have pulled together without Jo's determination and expertise. Excellent!"

- MT

"Jade Shelton was absolutely fantastic!! Professional and proactive at all times."

- JH

"This is by far the go-to firm for any issues. You are made to feel valued from the outset and they are so confident in what they do. Wouldn't recommend any other. Thank you Hugh and Max."

- Ros Jones

Please select preferred method of contact

* We will only contact you by telephone if you select this as primary form of contact.