• Only-child with 5 kids cut off for eloping at 17;
  • $800k estate left for animal welfare;
  • Charities appeal “harsh and unreasonable” ruling.

The UK Supreme Court has overturned a lower court’s rejection of the gift by will of a £486k estate to three animal charities at the expense of the deceased’s daughter who was left nothing.

court provided for benefit to daughter left out of will but animal charities got most of estateHeather Ilott’s mother had explicitly told lawyers that her daughter “can expect no inheritance from me when I die.”

Ilott had eloped with her boyfriend (now husband) when she was 17, triggering a life-long feud with mother Melita Jackson.

After many failed attempts to repair the relationship, Jackson passed away in 2004 leaving her £486k estate to the Blue Cross Animal Welfare Charity, RSPB and the RSPCA.

Ilott – an only child – was awarded one third of Jackson’s estate by the Court of Appeal in recognition of her welfare dependency, her very low income and her need to support five children.

In 2007, the county court awarded Ilott £50,000  the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act describing Jackson’s actions as “unreasonable, capricious and harsh”.

Ilott challenged that award and in 2011, the UK court of appeal increased her benefit under the will to £143,000 so she could acquire a home and awarded £20,000 for living expenses.

The Supreme Court ruling left the county court decision to stand meaning that Ilott will receive just £50,000.

Ilott (Respondent) v The Blue Cross and others (Appellants) Lord Neuberger, President; Lady Hale, Deputy President; Lord Kerr; Lord Clarke; Lord Wilson; Lord Sumption; Lord Hughes, 15 March 2017