Heather Ilott has successfully challenged a previous court ruling that meant she could not claim part of her mother's £460,000 estate which had been entirely bequeathed to three animal charities. The Court of Appeal said Ilott is entitled to an inheritance as it had been "unreasonable" of her mother not to make a provision for her daughter in her will.
Melita Jackson died in 2004 at the age of 70. She had written her will in 2002 and left an accompanying letter explaining why she had not left anything to her daughter. The two had become estranged after Ilott eloped at 17 and the relationship had never been repaired.
Ilott approached the District Court after her mother's death when her will was revealed to leave her entire estate to three animal charities: the Blue Cross, the RSPB and the RSPCA.
The court held that Ilott was entitled to a provision under the will of £50,000.
Illot appealed the decision on the grounds that she was entitled to a greater sum. The three charities cross-appealed and the court held that in fact Ilott was not entitled to any part of her mother's estate.
The Court of Appeal disagreed and held that Ilott is entitled to make a claim for part of the £460,000 estate. However, the court only said she was entitled to the original £50,000 and that if either party wanted to dispute the amount they should do so in the High Court.
The Court of Appeal's ruling is good for children who have been excluded from their parents' wills. The court said they have a right to make a claim, even if they can subsist without any contributions from the parent in question.
However, the charities said the ruling will "open the floodgates" for litigation by disgruntled relatives trying to overturn charitable legacies left in wills. Kim Hamilton, the chief executive of the Blue Cross, said the charity and all others like it rely on legacies to care for thousands of animals in need.
Read more on the story (Guardian)
Learn more about leaving a charitable legacy in a will (FindLaw)
Find local wills and probate solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)