Ilott v Mitson: When a will is not leaving all your worldly goods

Posted on: July 28th, 2015

A landmark Court of Appeal ruling has undermined people’s ability to leave their money and assets to whom they wish in their will. The freedom of choice to decide who should inherit under a will has now been questioned in a new ruling.

In the case of Ilott v Mitson, Mrs Jackson left all her money to three charities and expressly stated in her will that she did not want her only daughter to inherit any money as the pair had fallen out many years earlier. The mother had not approved of daughter’s elopement when she was 17 years old and the parties had never reconciled.

Whilst the mother’s stance in relation to her daughter may seem harsh it was ultimately the mother’s freedom of choice to disinherit her daughter and she expressly set out her reasons for doing so. That up until now would make it very difficult for a disinherited child to overturn the will particularly if the daughter is an adult and not being provided for by the mother and there are no issue as the capacity of the parent at the time of sign the will.

This new case suggests that if parents for whatever reason want to disinherit children they are going to have set out in far more detail their reasons for doing so and why they are leaving their money to others and show they have tangible connections with say a charity or another person.

We have seen an increase in number of disputes as to the terms of wills and this case is only likely to add to this particularly when many family dynamics are now complicated by step parents, half brother and sisters and second marriages.