Judge overrules woman’s last wishes 198



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How confident are you that your money and your treasured possessions will go to the people you want them to go to when you die?

You may have written a will and made provision for your family and friends, carefully allocating cash and possessions to those people who need it and would appreciate it the most. If one of your children has chosen not to speak to you for years or decided to separate themselves from the rest of the family, do they deserve to get their hands on a share of your life savings?

A recent court case in the UK has thrown into doubt whether you can be certain that your last wishes will be carried out as you would want them to be.

The story of Melita Jackson and her estranged daughter Heather Ilott is a cautionary one.

Heather Ilott, went to court after her mother Melita Jackson left her £486,000 (AU$1,039,408) estate to animal charities when she died in 2004.

The British Court of Appeal has ruled that Heather should be awarded a third of the estate because her mother hadn’t left “reasonable provision” for her in the will.

The court heard Mrs Ilott, 54, had run away with her boyfriend at the age of 17. Her mother had never forgiven her, and did not want her to receive a penny of her estate. It was left to the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross charities.

Experts in the UK say the ruling means you can still disinherit your children but you’ll have to explain why and you’ll have to justify those you do leave money to. The law in Australia is similar, so-called testamentary freedom (being able to give the family silver to whoever we want to) is balanced by laws that allow the courts to see that family members are looked after with the proceeds of an estate.

Mrs Ilott, who was an only child, had won the right to an inheritance of £50,000 (AUD$107,000) in 2007 after a district judge concluded she had been “unreasonably” excluded by Mrs Jackson. That ruling was reversed, before Appeal Court judges ruled she was entitled to a share of the money.

Is it fair that disinherited children can still claim a share of your money when you die or should your last wishes be obeyed to the letter?


Starts at 60 Writers

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  1. So what is the point of making a will if youre last wishes are not respected?

  2. Weird-sounds fishy to me.

    5 REPLY
    • I knew people would fight over money-I just assumed this lady had no close relatives-maybe not.

    • Yes but you pay to have a will written out n l think a persons last wishes be respected l know that the will can be contested but could cost big money to do that here in nz anyway l would hate to think l had a will written out that was not honered.

    • I have yet to make a will because it’s not right that after you die anyone can decide to contest it. What’s the point. The law should follow what is your last wish in this world. Its disgusting!

  3. Wills can always be contested no matter what, so even if we did want certain people to get less than the others or to be left out for similar reasons as read in this post, then we’re really wasting our time and money (to a solicitor) in the first place for wanting certain things written in our Will. It’s a catch 22, but that’s my view anyway.

  4. Frankly I don’t see why your adult children should have any right to any inheritance from you. Perhaps you should give reasons for not leaving them anything, more especially if you leave to one and not to another.

    1 REPLY
  5. So our last wishes are not being upheld, then why to we pay solicitors to write them for us!

    2 REPLY
    • Most times your wishes are being followed. I would think that if you had someone who you felt had to be left out you would perhaps have an idea that they might contest the will if the benefits were large enough. That’s the time to tell your solicitor and be VERY sure of the wording and explanations in your will.

  6. If someone makes a will a particular way then that is how it should be disbursed. It is NOT for the JUDICIARY to interfere. Absolutely nothing to do with them.
    It is certainly how I will expect my will to be enacted when I croak it!

  7. The laws are meant to protect not overturn last wishes of a person. If someone is left out in the will then it is obvious that the deceased did not wish that person to be included. How can a court/judge deem otherwise is totally wrong because the judge does not know why and should not play god or devil’s advocate. Laws should be changed to reflect as well as respect a person’s last wishes.

  8. Sell everything and spend all the money. No worries. No arguements.

    5 REPLY
    • Yes, I think with the way the law is now that there’s no point leaving anything of value.

    • That is the only way you can guarantee that your wishes are followed. Sell your house, give your goods & chatells to the people you want to have them. Blow the money from selling your house or give it to the people that you want to have it. Then that way your wishes are carried out.

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