Animal Charity Ruling Highlights Need for Clear Instructions Say North East Solicitors…19th April 2017

A SUPREME Court ruling which allows three animal charities to benefit from a wealthy woman’s estate highlights the need to leave clear instructions, according to a leading North East solicitor.

A final judgement was recently given on the case of Ilott v Mitson, where estranged daughter Heather Ilott challenged the fact that her mother left her money to The Blue Cross, the RSPCA and the RSPB.

Initially Mrs Ilott was given £50,000 from the estate by a court, reflecting her needs for financial maintenance, a right under statute. This was increased by the Court of Appeal in 2015 to £143,000 which would allow her to buy the home she was living in.

But the three charities launched their own challenge against the second ruling – which has now been overturned, leading to the reinstatement of the first award.

Experts at Durham-based EMG Solicitors say that the case highlights the need to ensure a will doesn’t just leave instructions as to who will benefit but also to explain why someone has been excluded and their connections to their chosen beneficiaries.

And it also flags up the importance of anyone planning to disinherit a child ensuring they get expert legal advice.

“It is equally as important for people to explain why they haven’t left certain family members anything,” said Samantha Edward, Wills expert at EMG.

“Then if they were to challenge a will, there could be shown that there was a reason why the deceased person chose not to include them.

“That can save an awful lot of heartbreak and expense.

“Disinheriting a child can lead to all kind of complications as this case has highlighted, which is why it is so important that clear instructions are left to ensure that money goes to the chosen beneficiaries.”

Samantha added that the overturned ruling upheld the rights of the deceased, in ensuring the distribution of their estate reflected their wishes.

“The initial Court of Appeal decision went against the wishes of Mrs Illott’s mother which was then overturned which upheld the rights of people making wills to decide where their money goes,” she said.

“In England and Wales this is given a high priority as opposed to other countries such as France where it is compulsory to leave a portion of your estate to family members.

“Cases like this illustrate how important it is to make a will and ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.”