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Landmark Supreme Court ruling on disputed will case announced today

15 March 2017

The long awaited judgment of the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Ilott v Mitson was announced today ruling in favour of three animal charities against a woman cut out of her mother’s will.

The case initially caused much discussion when Mrs Ilott challenged the provisions of her late mother’s will which left the majority of her estate to charities. Mrs Ilott was originally awarded £50,000 but this was increased by the Court of Appeal to £160,000 which included a large sum for Mrs Ilott to purchase a house.

The decision of the Court of Appeal was appealed to the Supreme Court by charities The Blue Cross, RSPB and RSPCA.

Today the Supreme Court ruled that the Court of Appeal was incorrect in its approach and reinstated the original award.

In his judgment Lord Hughes said: “English law recognises the freedom of individuals to dispose of their assets by will after death in whatever manner they wish…”

Simon Cook, head of our wills, probate & trusts team, said: “This case emphasises the different dynamics in modern families, especially with second marriages and children from previous relationships. It is important to put affairs in order and take correct advice in making a will so as to take all steps possible to avoid conflict in the future.”

Paul Gordon, one of our litigation partners, works closely with Simon and the team advising clients on inheritance disputes. He commented: “This is the first case under the 1975 Act to reach the UK’s highest court. The decision will be important to lawyers assessing claims under the Act in the future.”

 Simon leads our wills, trusts and probate team. He deals with all aspects of private client work such as trusts (including personal injury trusts), wills, powers of attorney, Court of Protection and estate planning and administration. Simon is also a member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners and the Law Society Private Client Section.

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