Supreme Court judgment affirms position that people can bequeathe their assets as they choose
A woman has lost her appeal to the Supreme Court in which she claimed that her mother was not entitled to leave the majority of her estate to three animal charities and not to her.
Melita Jackson had left the majority of her £486,000 estate to the charities, The Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. An original settlement of £50,000 made by a district judge was appealed by Heather Ilott, who said it was not generous enough. The Court of Appeal then ruled that Mrs Ilott should be awarded £160,000. This has now been overturned by the Supreme Court, which restored the original award.
The Supreme Court ruled that significant weight should be given to the wishes set down in a person's Will and that family relationships do not automatically override the needs of charities who would use the money to do good works.
The judgment means that adult children are less likely to be able to make a successful claim against parents' estates if they are disinherited.