Animal charities take will contest to Supreme Court
A decade-long fight between three animal charities and a woman who was cut out of her estranged mother’s will is set for the Supreme Court.
The dispute attracted widespread media attention last July after the Court of Appeal awarded £164,000 to a woman from her estranged mother’s estate, even though the mother, Melita Jackson, had stated she did not want her daughter to receive anything.
Jackson had instead opted to leave her entire £500,000 estate to animal charities. But her will was overturned and a third of her estate was handed to her daughter, Heather Ilott, on the grounds that she had not been given ‘reasonable financial provision’.
At the time, Lady Justice Arden said that Ilott’s resources, which included an annual household income of under £7,000 and state benefits of around £13,000 ‘are at such a basic level that they outweigh the importance that would normally be attached to the fact that the appellant is an adult child who has been living independently for so many years’.
The final award was structured to allow Ilott to keep her benefits.
The Supreme Court yesterday gave the charities, including Blue Cross, the RSPCA and the RSPB, permission to appeal. It said it would decide whether the appeal court was wrong to set aside the award made in the first instance on the back of Ilott’s claim under the 1975 Inheritance Act.
It will also look at whether the Court of Appeal erred in its approach to the ‘maintenance’ standard under the act, or if it was wrong to structure an award in a way which allowed Ilott to maintain her entitlement to state benefits.