Three animal charities have won their inheritance case at the Supreme Court against a woman cut out of her mother's will.
Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court has put the focus back on the testator’s wishes and confirmed that these should be considered as a priority. Unlike mainland Europe we do not have forced heirship in this country - we have the testamentary freedom to leave our estate as we wish.
The Court of Appeal Judgment had begun to erode this. It had wide reaching implications and resulted in an influx of claims under the 1975 Act by estranged adult children seeking money from their late parent’s estate, often in circumstances where the parent had specifically wanted to exclude that child due to a poor, or in some cases, non-existent relationship.
The context of those relationships were given little weight by the court, no matter how awful the child may have been to the parent. The situation has now changed however and it has been recognised by the Supreme Court that the testator’s wishes should be given considerable weight, and any estrangement would be a relevant factor in considering if such a child could be successful in bringing a claim under the act.
This judgment provides far more certainty for people when preparing their wills, and they should feel more confident that their estate will end up with those they intend to benefit, particularly if they wish to make a bequest to a charity.