A battle of wills?

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If you have followed the news recently, you may have seen the recent landmark ruling in which the provisions of a woman’s will were unexpectedly overturned by the Court of Appeal. This has caused surprise within the legal sector and raised concerns for charities.

The woman, who died in 2004, left her entire estate to a number of animal charities, deliberately cutting out her estranged daughter from benefitting from her estate. Her daughter had secured an inheritance of £50,000 in 2007 when a district judge stated that she had been “unreasonably” excluded. This decision was reversed, so the daughter took her case to the Court of Appeal and was eventually awarded a third of the estate, with the ruling being granted on the grounds that her mother had made no “reasonable provision” for her in the will.

Legal experts consider it advisable to review existing wills and be prepared to explain exactly why you wish to disinherit anyone from benefitting from your estate, and state how you’re connected to those you leave money to.

The charities involved in this case jointly expressed their surprise and disappointment at the judgement.

The rules were changed for those who die intestate (without having made a will) in October 2014 and state exactly who is to benefit from your estate when you die.  We covered this in a previous article which you can access here.

Whilst this should certainly not deter anyone from making a will, it does serve to demonstrate the importance of seeking the right professional advice to ensure your wishes are correctly documented. Failure to do so could make it easier for wills to be challenged and perhaps weaken people’s right to leave money to who they wish.