Experts have welcomed the clarification of the law in the case, involving a six-figure sum awarded to a woman who was left out of her estranged mother’s Will. Instead, three animal charities benefited.
The woman made a claim against the estate for reasonable financial provision, and later appealed a settlement of £50,000 awarded by a district judge, arguing the amount was not generous enough.
Following a Court of Appeal ruling that awarded the woman more than £160,000 instead, the Supreme Court has now restored the original £50,000 award.
Stephanie Kerr, solicitor and specialist in probate litigation at regional law firm Napthens, said the decision would make it more difficult for adults to make a successful claim for a significant proportion of their parents’ estates if they are disinherited.
She explained: “This decision was being watched with interest as the Supreme Court essentially considered the circumstances in which adults could receive greater provision than initially allowed for in their parents’ Wills, or the provision they would received under instestacy, that is when no Will has been made.
“The Supreme Court said that weight should be given to the wishes set down in a person’s Will, and that the needs of the charities receiving the bulk of the Estate are not automatically overridden by family relationships.
“This is good news in that the court has limited the amount that the woman in question receives rather than providing her with a significant proportion of the estate. If that had been the decision, the freedom to make a Will could have been limited. This case confirms that there are situations when the exclusion of a child, which sadly is sometimes necessary, does not justify the court undermining the wishes of the person making the Will above “reasonable financial provision”.
“It will remain difficult for adult children to overrule what a parent wants and has laid out properly in a well-written Will.”