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Posted 31 July 2015

Don’t let a judge re-write your Will!

Close up of hands signing a document.

An estranged daughter has been awarded a large portion of her deceased mother’s estate by the Court of Appeal. Might the recent judgement in Ilott v Mitson make it significantly easier for children and other hopeful beneficiaries to dispute a Will?

It can seem surprising that the courts may overrule a Will. After all, the mother in this case made it clear that she did not wish her daughter to receive anything!

Critically, however, the mother’s lack of provision for her estranged daughter was not found to be reasonable.  In fact, the Court considered that the mother’s decision was “unreasonable, capricious and harsh”, particularly since her daughter was in straightened circumstances and the mother had no apparent connection to the charities she chose to benefit instead.

Although your Will may set out who gets what, if your decisions are likely to cause disappointment it seems it can now be equally crucial to leave evidence about why you have chosen to exclude certain people from benefit and to include others. If you are no longer around to explain your decision, a carefully prepared letter setting out your thoughts may be crucial.

Whether or not this case will lead to a queue of disappointed beneficiaries outside the courts remains unclear. What can be said with some certainty, though, is that it vital when making your Will to take professional advice from people who understand the parks business.

If you have any queries regarding a Will or if you are interested in subscribing to parklaw contact the parks team by telephone on 01392 204519 or email

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