Can the wishes in your Will be overturned – In a recent legal ruling, the wishes in a will have been overturned and the daughter who had been cut out of the will – awarded a £164,000 inheritance.
The daughter went to court after her mother Mrs Jackson left her £486,000 estate to animal charities when she died in 2004.
The Court of Appeal has ruled she should receive a third of the estate, as she had no income or pension and was on benefits.
Mrs Jackson made her last will in 2002 with a letter to explain why she had disinherited her only daughter, referring to the fact she had walked out of her home in 1978 to live with her boyfriend.
Dependants’ claims against an estate
So the answer is yes, the wishes in your Will can be overturned. Following a death, relatives, dependants and others can challenge someone’s will by going to court and claiming ‘reasonable financial provision’ from the estate. The same applies even if someone dies ‘intestate’ and beneficiaries are not happy about lot, they may be able to make a claim under intestacy rules
The following can make a claim against an estate:
- Any spouse or civil partner.
- Any former spouse or civil partner, provided they have not remarried or registered a new civil partnership.
- Any other person with whom the deceased was cohabiting continuously for the two years immediately preceding death as spouse or civil partner.
- Any children (which includes illegitimate, adopted and adult children, and children conceived but not yet born at the time of death, but not step children .
- Any person who the deceased treated as a child of the family.
- Any other person the deceased ‘maintained’.
There has been a lot of fuss over this recent legal ruling but surely the judge took the view that the mother’s lack of provision for her daughter was undeserved and as she had 5 children to look after was simply being fair in awarding a third of the value of the estate to her. In this particular case also perhaps the judge took the view that the mother was being unreasonable in her dispossession of the daughter.
This case highlights the difficulties you may encounter when you favour one beneficiary over another. It is not enough to simply write a will. If you do not want your will overturned then we suggest that you go through a full advisory process and that you establish trusts in your lifetime to more clearly direct to whom your assets should go to!
The above case reminds of a case in 2014 where a lady left her family out of her will and left around £500,000 to the Conservative Party. Yet the judge declared her Compos Mentis !!!!!
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