The Inheritance Act 1975 - Don't leave it to the last minute!

23 Dec 2016

The dailies have commented regularly on the saga  of Ilott v Mitson [2010] concerning the claim of an adult, estranged daughter against the estate of her late mother, for reasonable provision for her maintenance under the Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975.  The deceased had made no provision for her daughter, as she had, in effect,  disowned her. The deceased strongly disapproved when her daughter left home, at quite a young age, to live with a man, whose lifestyle did not meet the deceased’s expectations! The deceased did not approve of her daughter subsisting on state benefits.

The deceased left all her estate to charities, with which she had no long term affinity, so far as could be determined in court. These charities, in the light of the court having made an award in favour of the daughter, are fighting all the way to the Supreme Court where the case will soon be heard. They are standing up, so it is said, for the principle of testamentary freedom.

A similar case has recently been decided in the Central London County Court. In Amey v Jones [2016]. A daughter, aged 41, claimed, against the estate of her late father, as he had made no provision for her in his Will. The Recorder’s view of the claim may have been coloured by the fact that the daughter took three years to apply. The applicant daughter had two teenage children, and was not working. Her lack of employment was found to be a lifestyle choice.

The most important difference, in this case, was that the entire estate passed to the deceased’s widow as beneficiary. It is true that the marriage was not too long a time before the deceased’s death, but the widow and the deceased had been a couple for over thirty years, and the court saw this as a very long term relationship.

In any event the daughter’s evidence, of her needs and resources, and her relationship with her father, was found to be unreliable, and the court did not therefore accept it as convincing.

Ultimately the claim failed; the Recorder was not convinced of the claimant’s needs, and furthermore found that the widow, because of her age, needed the entire estate to maintain herself. The daughter failed to establish a moral claim on the estate, let alone a legal one.

Clearly in Ilott v Mitson, the defendants are charities, so they cannot easily establish that they “need” to inherit. The moral for a testator determined to disown in these circumstances is to establish a pattern of lifetime giving or volunteering in favour of one’s residuary charities as soon as possible – do not leave it to the last minute!!


For further assistance with the Inheritance Act, or any other personal or family matter, please contact Bryan on:

Further reading

Supporting employees through the next lockdown

Managing your employees through uncertainty and equipping them to thrive, remain engaged and feel part of a team environment, must be a HR priority for 2021.
Read more Read

Remote working and home security

Blog, News & PR
With a large proportion of the workforce now working from home, security arrangements for home workers need to be addressed - Robert Ganpatsingh explains
Read more Read

Tenants take note: dilapidations damages to be subject to VAT

Blog, Legal Updates
Property expert Cheraine Williams explains why dilapidations could be about to get more expensive
Read more Read

Covid business interruption insurance payments due to small and medium companies

Blog, Legal Updates
Partner Jonathan Compton looks at the Supreme Court’s decision on business interruption insurance
Read more Read
  • Brighton Office

    1 Jubilee Street


    East Sussex

    BN1 1GE

  • Gatwick Office

    Griffin House

    135 High Street


    West Sussex

    RH10 1DQ

  • Guildford Office

    Wonersh House

    The Guildway

    Old Portsmouth Road



    GU3 1LR

  • Horsham Office

    Ridgeland House

    15 Carfax


    West Sussex

    RH12 1DY

  • London Office

    6 New Street Square

    New Fetter Lane


    EC4A 3BF

  • Get in touch