ONE TO WATCH: Inheritance Test Case Headed for Supreme Court

A charity which is appealing a ruling for a daughter to be granted a third of her mother’s estate despite the deceased parent’s wishes, is set to have its case heard by the Supreme Court.

Last year, despite the written instructions left by Melita Jackson for her £486,000 estate to be left to the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross after she died, her estranged daughter of 26 years, Heather Ilott, won her fight to have the will overturned and was granted £163,000.

Judges have now agreed to hear the charities’ appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court in a landmark case that is expected to set a precedent for future inheritance claims.

‘Ms Ilott successfully challenged her mother’s instruction using the 1975 Inheritance Act, which says that a parent’s will must make “reasonable financial provision” for the maintenance of children, by arguing that this definition should include adult children,’ explains Andrea Cox, Director and Head of Private Client at Verisona Law.

‘Similar cases have been brought before the courts, but this is the first to be granted a hearing in the Supreme Court, so it is being watched with a great deal of interest.’

Andrea agrees with James Aspden, the solicitor representing the charities in their appeal, who said the Supreme Court’s decision will draw a line on the rights of children to challenge the contents of their parent’s will.

‘Win or lose, this is about trying to get some certainty on when the court can use its powers to intervene in this way,’ he said. ‘The charities want a ruling so people who wish to leave money to them know where they stand.’

‘The Supreme Court will only give time to a case that they perceive to be of public importance’ concludes Andrea. ‘We hope the result of this hearing, which is likely to take place next year, will give a definitive outcome and charities need no longer spend their money on legal battles such as these.’

Andrea is a Director and Head of Private Client at Verisona Law, specialising in Wills, probate and tax planning.  She also advises on lasting powers of attorney and declarations of trust in relation to property ownership.  Andrea is often asked to advise elderly parents and their children on the issue of trust of the family home and gift of the family home to the children. 

Many clients regard her as the ‘family’s solicitor’ and come back to her whenever they need legal advice. Clients have appointed her to act as their Attorney in the event that they become unable to manage their own affairs and she has acted in this capacity on a number of occasions.

Andrea is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly.

solicitor for the elderly

Andrea qualified as a solicitor in 1985 and has worked as a full time solicitor since then.  She has been with Gray Purdue, now Verisona Law, since 1987, initially acting for clients in matrimonial cases. Since 1999 she has advised on Wills and probate, and related matters.

She was on the Solicitors panel for the Leprosy Mission for a number of years and supports ‘free Wills’ campaigns designed to raise money for charities.    

Past work

  • Acted for a client whose husband died unexpectedly without making his Will and leaving her with a young baby. 
  • Made an application to the Court to amend the rules of intestacy to ensure that the client was able to manage financially without having to tie up funds for her baby daughter until she was older.
  • Acted for a client whose solicitors at the time had failed to do a deed of variation to reduce the amount of inheritance tax that was payable on his late father’s estate.  Ensuring that the client received compensation for this and was put in the position he would have been had the deed of variation been prepared and signed in the time allowed. 
  • Wills
  • Probate and administration of estates
  • Tax planning as it relates to wills and estates
  • Lasting powers of attorney
  • Registration of enduring powers of attorney
  • Declarations of trust and transfers of equity
  • Initial advice regarding probate and will disputes
  • Living wills/Advance Directives
  • Equity release

Make an