The Court of Appeal has upheld the appeal of Mrs Ilott (aged 50 and an only child) against a decision of the High Court that her estranged mother’s will could reasonably make no financial provision for Mrs Ilott, instead leaving the entire £486,000 estate to three separate charities. The Court of Appeal directed that Mrs Ilott’s appeal against the first instance decision of DJ Million (as he then was) to award her a lump sum of £50,000 from her late mother’s estate be remitted to the High Court.
In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeal examined in detail the approach to be taken under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (Inheritance Act 1975) where an adult child claims that the will of a deceased parent has failed to make reasonable financial provision for him or her. While the court’s decision does not represent any legal development, its review of the case law is a helpful guide on how to approach cases involving the claims of adult children.
The decision itself and those it drew on emphasise the need to take into account all the factors set out in section 3 of the Inheritance Act 1975 in deciding whether the financial provision (either testamentary or under the intestacy rules) for a claimant under the Inheritance Act 1975 is unreasonable. The decision also reinforces the propositions that an adult child is in the same position as any other applicant who has to prove his case under the Inheritance Act 1975 and that Parliament clearly intended that an adult child should be able to bring a claim, even if he could subsist without claiming on the estate.
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