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How much did Ilott actually change things for those challenging an estate?

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Dealing with the financial affairs of someone who has died

After the well publicised case of Ilot v Mitson in 2017, there were concerns that the decision to award an estranged daughter around 10% of her late mother’s estate may have opened the floodgates for adult non-dependant children to bring claims against their parents’ estates for reasonable financial provision. The recent dismissal of the claim of Lady Tara Wellesley, the daughter of the late Earl Cowley has shown that this is not the case.

The late Earl Cowley’s estate was an estimated £1.3 million and his daughter was seeking a larger share of this than the £20,000 she had been left in his Will. The majority of the estate was left to the Earl’s son, an income was provided for his final wife and the balance was split between his four step-daughters.

Lady Tara, who lives in a council house, brought a claim to seek a larger share through this claim. She alleged that her ADHD was such that she could not work and was reliant on the state. Accordingly, she said the £20,000 she was left did not amount to reasonable financial provision.

The estate defended the claim, setting out that Lady Tara had been estranged from her father and had not in fact seen him for 26 years prior to his death in 2016. There were allegations that the estrangement was as a result of Lady Tara leading a lifestyle of drink and drugs, which the late Earl disapproved of.

This recent decision is important as it reiterates that Ilott should be treated as the exception in very specific circumstances, rather than the new rule.

If you think you may want to challenge an estate, it is important that you seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible. The time limit for certain claims challenging the terms of a Will is incredibly short, and whilst the loss of a loved one is always difficult, it is important to move quickly otherwise you could miss out if you wait too long.

For a fixed fee of £150, you can have a 30-minute appointment with a specialist, either on the telephone, or face to face, depending on your preference. We will take some brief details from you before the appointment, and we will then discuss your case with you, and what your options are. Call us on 01616 966 229.