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Is testamentary freedom in the UK slowly being eroded?

With the number of wills being challenged by adult children under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 rising by a remarkable 20 per cent in the last decade, the court's ability to interfere with testamentary freedom is falling under increasing scrutiny.

23 February 2016

The high-profile 2015 case of Ilott saw the Court of Appeal rule in favour of the daughter, Heather Ilott, who was granted £160,000 of her mother's, Melita Jackson's, estate, despite Jackson's will specifying that the entire estate was to be split between three animal charities.

Jackson had requested that her daughter should not benefit from her estate as she had left the family home to live with her boyfriend at the age of 17. However, the Court of Appeal awarded Ilott with one-third of the estate, concluding she was 'unreasonably' excluded by Jackson.

However, despite the Court of Appeal's ruling and the very natural, societal desire to see children or dependants adequately provided for, our primary concern as legal representatives should surely be to safeguard the written wishes of the deceased.

There is always a strong mo...

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