The Court of Appeal have just given a landmark ruling in respect of making a claim over an estate that an individual has been specifically excluded from.
Ordinarily when drafting a Will where a person has been excluded, the individual writing the Will can leave their estate to whomever they wish, and a declaration is added to confirm the reason for not benefiting that person in the event that a claim is brought. However, the ruling means that it may be easier for children to claim for reasonable financial provision in wills.
Heather Llott, from Hertfordshire, made a claim after her mother left her £486,000 estate to 3animal charities in 2004. The 11 year case has now concluded in the Court of Appeal where it has been ruled that the daughter should receive a third of the estate. The mother had dis-inherited her daughter because she had eloped at the age of 17 with her boyfriend and had been estranged from her daughter since 1978. As a result, her mother had never forgiven her and did not want her to receive a penny of her estate. They had not spoken for 26 years.
Mrs Llott’s case in court was that she had always expected the money, and had planned to use it to buy her housing association home. She also argued that her mother had no connection to the charities that she had benefited. The three Appeal Court judges, Lady Justice Arden together with Lord Justice Ryder and Sir Colin Rimer, unanimously agreed the 54-year-old should be financially compensated The basis of the ruling was that “reasonable provision” hadn’t been left for the daughter.
The ruling is concerning because it could significantly weaken people's right to leave money to those they want to inherit it, and goes against a person's desire to give their money to whomever they wish. It could potentially open the floodgates to further claims of this nature as more people may feel that they should have been “reasonably provided for” by reason of being related by blood. Therefore, it is more important than ever that you use a solicitor when drafting your Will to ensure that the reasons you are disinheriting someone and why you have chosen the alternatives is fully explained. The ruling will mean that the individual drafting the Will will have to show a connection to the alternative they have chosen.
If you would like more information regarding the drafting of a valid Will or require amendments to your existing Will due to the ruling, please do not hesitate to contact our expert solicitor Alison Jeffels who is available at both our Scarborough and Bridlington Offices.