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Family disputes over legacies left to charity

View profile for Michelle Hayter
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People are free to leave their assets to beneficiaries of their own choosing under UK law. However, this is subject to some safeguards including claims under the Inheritance (Provision for family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Michelle Hayter, specialist inheritance dispute solicitor and Partner at Frettens, explains “Claims under this Act are made by family and dependants where the will (or if there is no will, the rules of intestacy) fails to make financial provision for them.”

A claim for financial provision can be made when:

  • A will excludes someone expecting to benefit from it
  • When someone dies intestate
  • When there is evidence that the deceased’s will was made under duress or that the deceased did not have capacity at the time of making the will
  • When family members and extended family are excluded from a will and do not benefit

A recent case which garnered a lot of media attention was when Heather Ilott disputed her late mother’s will. Mrs. Ilott and her mother had been estranged for many years and Mrs Jackson (mother) left her estate totalling almost half a million pounds to three animal charities – The Blue Cross, RSPCA and RSPB. Mrs. Ilott applied to the Court for an order under the Inheritance (Provision for family and dependants) Act and was awarded £50,000. Mrs Ilott then appealed to the High Court for a larger sum and the three charities appealed against the original ruling of £50,000. The High Court Judge found in favour of the charities and Mrs Ilott then took her case to the Court of Appeal who ruled that she could request a larger share of her mother’s will.

Our specialist team of contentious wills and probate solicitors can assist you if you think you have a claim against a will. please contact Michelle or her team on 01202 499255 for a free initial appointment to discuss your situation.