The Supreme Court has given permission for Blue Cross, RSPB and RSPCA to appeal last year’s Court of Appeal decision in Ilott v Mitson. This is a case which has been before the court five times previously and has been widely reported in the media.
By way of a brief summary, the deceased died on 29 June 2004 leaving her net estate of £486,000 (save for a £5,000 legacy), to be divided equally between three charities. The will made no provision for her daughter, Heather Ilott. Mother and daughter had been estranged for over 26 years. Heather Ilott sought provision from her mother’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975.
At first instance in 2007, Heather Ilott was awarded £50,000. This decision was appealed by the charities and in 2009 the High Court concluded that the district judge had been wrong to make an award at all and Heather Ilott was awarded nothing.
By the time the Court of Appeal heard the matter in July 2015, the court had reinstated the £50,000 award and it was determined that Heather Ilott’s provision should be increased from £50,000 to £143,000. She was awarded that sum plus the reasonable acquisition costs of purchasing a property and £20,000 to meet her income needs. The award was structured so that Heather Ilott could use it to purchase a house while preserving her entitlement to state benefits.
The Supreme Court has now been asked to consider whether the Court of Appeal should have set aside the award made in 2009 on the respondent's claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and whether it erred in its approach to the "maintenance" standard under the Act or was wrong to structure an award under the Act in a way which allowed the respondent to preserve her entitlement to state benefits.
This case has prompted an increase in the number of adult children claiming financial provision from the estates of their parents and it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue.