Rogers & Norton News

The Importance of Wills

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Following our article on the well publicised case of Ilott v Mitson (20 October 2015) in which Mrs Ilott successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal and received £163,000 from her mother’s estate despite not being named as a beneficiary under the Will, our Wills and Probate team has seen a considerable increase in clients wishing to update their wills.

In summary, Mrs Ilott was brought up solely by her mother following the death of her father before her birth.  At 17 Mrs Ilott left home to live with Mr Ilott without her mother’s approval.  She later married and had 5 children with Mr Ilott but her relationship with her mother never improved.  Mrs Ilott lived in a housing association property and her family was supported by various benefits.

Mrs Ilott’s mother passed away leaving a Will, supported by two side letters explaining her reasoning, leaving nothing to her daughter or wider family but leaving her estate valued at £486,000 equally between three charities.  The claim was brought by Mrs Ilott under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 which allows, amongst other categories, children of the deceased to bring a claim upon the estate for reasonable provision.

It was found that Mrs Ilott should not be penalised for a lack of expectation of receiving anything from her mother’s estate as the charities had no expectation either as the deceased had no previous connection with the charities in her lifetime.  It was also found that the estrangement between the parties should not deprive the appellant of an award. 

The appellant’s income, earning capacity and lack of pension contributed to the court’s reasoning that despite Mrs Ilott being an independent adult child she survived on such a basic level of resources that she was awarded £143,000 to purchase her local authority house.  She was also given the option to receive a further award of £20,000 from the estate to provide extra income without affecting the benefits she receives.

We have seen many clients who are now re-visiting their Wills.  It is daunting to have to plan for your death but by having a Will in place you will save your family unnecessary distress at an already difficult time.  Even if you only have modest assets, a Will enables your estate to be administered in accordance with your wishes and stops the worry and trouble that can often come with dying intestate (i.e. without a Will). 

Writing a Will is especially important if you have children as it gives you the opportunity to appoint guardians.  A number of events can affect who is able to bring a claim against an estate.  Changes in financial circumstances, marriage, cohabiting with a new partner are reasons to make and amend a Will.  Consideration should also be given about making lifetime gifts. It also allows you to achieve tax planning objectives and to consider protecting your assets from future care fees.

If you would like to discuss making a Will, or changes to an existing Will, please contact Louisa Shailes on 01603 675655 or email