Can You Disinherit An Adult Child From Your Will?


Excluding people from your Will may have just become more difficult after a landmark ruling in which a daughter who was excluded from her late mother's Will has won a third of her estate.

Can You Disinherit An Adult Child From Your Will?

The Judgement

After an initial ruling by a district judge in favour of the disinherited daughter for £50,000, the Hertforshire women appealed further to have the amount increased in the Court of Appeal. Initially, Melita Jackson, the late mother in the case, had left her £486,000 estate to animal charities of which she had little connection, after her daughter Heather Ilot, aged 17 eloped with her then boyfriend, now husband. As a result, her mother had never forgiven her and did not want a penny of her estate to be inherited by her daughter.

When Mrs Jackson made her last Will and testament in 2002, she left a letter detailing why she disinherited her only daughter, referring to when she eloped with her boyfriend decades earlier. However, in 2007, Mrs Ilot won the right to a portion of the estate after a district judge found she had been "unreasonably" excluded from her mother’s Will. That ruling was then later reversed by the High Court bringing us to the current judgement by the Court of Appeal who granted her a third, £486,000, of the estate.

Important Lessons Learned

There are some important lessons we can take from this particular case in the light of disinherited children and the amount that should be left for them in terms of "reasonable provisions" after the death of a parent.

  • If you want to disinherit someone from your Will, especially an adult child, you must make it clear why you are not leaving them anything
  • It is important that if you are disinheriting an individual from your Will and leaving money to charity as Mrs Jackson did, you must detail what connection you have with those you are leaving the money to
  • If you have been disinherited, it doesn’t mean that you will receive anything from the estate. There are laws in place to ensure that you receive "reasonable provision" if you have been left out
Following this landmark ruling, Mrs Ilford will be able to purchase her housing association property and she Will not lose her state benefits.

Taking this ruling into consideration, we advise anyone who is making a Will who has adult children to seek legal advice from Simpson Millar LLP.

We specialise in basic and complex Will writing especially in instances where you would like to leave your estate to charities and not to family members. English law dictates that you can leave your property to whomever you choose but to do this in the right way, you need the right legal guidance to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled after you have passed away.

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