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Will disputes expected to rise after landmark ruling

Everys’ head of disputes and claims has forecast a rise in the number of challenges to the provision left by wills, following a recent landmark ruling.

The Court of Appeal’s judgement led to an estranged adult child being awarded £164,000 from an estate worth almost £500,000 which had been entirely destined for the RSPCA, RSPB, and the Blue Cross.

Melita Jackson’s daughter Heather Ilott challenged the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Gay Cherryson has 20 years of experience in dealing with disputes arising from wills. 

She said: “This ruling could spark an increase in the number of children challenging the last wishes of their parents because they do not feel they have been left reasonable provision. In this case, the Court of Appeal felt the daughter, and her five children, had not received reasonable provision for future maintenance as she was on benefits and had no pension. The Court could also not find any clear connection between the deceased and the charities she had left her estate to.”

Ms Cherryson has witnessed the constantly changing face of inheritance claims with the structure of the modern day family throwing up further challenges, along with an ageing population that may need to rely on the law to protect their interests should they not be able to make decisions as in their latter years.

“Death is distressing enough without a will dispute making life harder for the surviving family,” added Ms Cherryson. “We try to resolve disputes out of court wherever possible whereas this ruling came 11 years after the deceased had passed away and was resolved at the Court of Appeal, but it was a very specific case.

“The worry for some clients is that their last wishes will not be honoured; therefore it is very important to clearly lay out the reasons why they want to exclude certain members of their family and, just as importantly, why they have chosen their named beneficiaries.”

Ms Cherryson is based in Exeter but is happy to travel to Everys’ other branches and is also willing to see clients out of normal working hours. She can be contacted on 01392 848924.

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