Chester Solicitors Will disputes

Ilott (Respondent) v The Blue Cross and others (Appellants)

Where are we now?

On 15 March 2017, the Supreme Court handed down the judgment in the case Ilott v Mitson, the first case in which the Supreme Court has considered the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in detail.

The case involved an adult child who was not financially dependent on her mother and who brought a claim against her late mother’s estate when she was excluded from her will. The mother had not made any provision for her daughter in her Will because they had been estranged for 26 years.  Instead the mother had left the majority of her estate (valued at approximately £486,000.00) to various charities.

At first instance, the District Judge decided that the Will did not make reasonable financial provision for Ms Ilott (the daughter) and granted her a lump sum of £50,000.00 to be paid to her out of the estate. Ms llott appealed the amount of this award.

The Court of Appeal allowed Mrs Ilott’s appeal on the basis that the District Judge had limited her award unfairly and had failed to investigate the effect of the award on her benefits entitlement. As a result of this the award was increased to £143,000.00 by the Court of Appeal. A cash sum of £20,000.00 to provide additional income was also awarded.

The charities appealed this decision and ultimately the same was set aside by the Supreme Court who restored the initial award of £50,000.00. The District Judge was, in the view of the Supreme Court, fully aware of the effect of his order on the applicant’s benefits and had made the £50,000.00 award so that Ms Ilott could improve her standard of life whilst leaving behind a capital sum small enough not to affect her entitlement to benefits.

The Supreme Court confirmed that in considering these types of cases the behaviour of both deceased and applicant, must be weighed against each other to determine what is ‘reasonable financial provision’. The Supreme Court highlighted that ‘maintenance’ does not extend to anything or everything which it would be desirable for the claimant to have and instead it implies provision to meet everyday living expenses. Therefore, an adult child with an income and in comfortable circumstances is unlikely to have a need for maintenance. Further, long estrangement is significant when considering what is reasonable financial provision.

It was also confirmed in this case that the benefits did not put Ms Ilott in a special category and that claims could not be decided by comparing the financial needs of the applicant with those of the beneficiaries. As such, the beneficiaries do not have to justify their entitlement.

Who can make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975?

Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, certain categories of family and dependants may be able to apply for reasonable financial provision from a deceased’s estate if they have not been provided for sufficiently, or at all, in that person’s will. The person bringing the claim must fall within one of the following categories:

  1. Spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  2. Former spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  3. Any person living with the deceased as spouse or civil partner;
  4. Child of the deceased (including adopted children);
  5. Any person who was treated as a child of the family;
  6. Any person who, immediately before the death of the deceased, was being maintained wholly or partly by the deceased. This does not include situations where the maintenance is part of a commercial relationship.

Our Chester inheritance dispute solicitors can assist will all types of inheritance claims and we offer all clients an initial free 30 minute consultation to discuss matters.

DISCLAIMER:

The information contained within this article and all of our articles is for information purposes only and must not be relied upon as legal advice.

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