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Daughter overturning mothers will could lead to deluge of claims, says Staines legal expert

A landmark ruling which has seen a woman awarded £164,000 after being cut out of her mother’s will in favour of charities could see a deluge of contested wills believes a Staines legal expert.

Heather llott went through a lengthy court battle after her mother Melita Jackson left her £486,000 estate to animal charities when she died in 2004.

However, the Court of Appeal has now ruled she should receive a third of the estate.

Patrick Cotran, a wills expert at Staines based solicitors Dale & Newbery, said the ruling and subsequent national publicity surrounding it could possibly weaken people’s right to leave money to those they want to inherit it.

“The ruling would mean people could still disinherit their children but would need to explain why they have decided to leave their money or assets to others and, even then, the Court can override their wishes” said Mr Cotran.

The court heard Mrs Ilott, 54, had never been forgiven by her mother for eloping with a boyfriend at 17, and did not want her to receive a penny of her estate, which was left to animal charities, the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross charities.

Mrs Ilott married her partner and the couple still live together in the Home Counties. They have five children and the court heard Mrs Ilott planned to use the inheritance to buy their home.

This week she was awarded a third of the estate because her mother hadn’t left “reasonable provision” for her in the will.

Mr Cotran added: “This will probably encourage disinherited adult children to challenge wills and claim greater sums and so could lead to a huge increase in the number of wills being contested.”

Mrs Jackson had made her last will two years before her death with a letter to explain why she had disinherited her daughter.

Mrs Ilott, who was an only child, had in 2007 won the right to an inheritance of £50,000 after a district judge concluded she had been “unreasonably” excluded by Mrs Jackson.

However, in the latest hearing the judge Lady Justice Arden said Mrs Ilott’s mother had been “unreasonable, capricious and harsh” and ruled she should therefore receive a greater proportion of the estate.