I am frequently asked why bother making a Will when the Courts are able to ignore your wishes and divide your estate as they see fit. The answer is that the Court can’t just substitute their own wishes for yours and, following the conclusion of the long running case of Ilott v The Blue Cross and others [2017] UKSC 17 - the first case of it’s nature to reach the Supreme Court - further guidance has been given. The Court when dealing with claims made against the estates of deceased persons have to apply the law in this area and have established guidance and principles to follow. In reality if you have made a valid Will you have set out what you want to happen to your assets – if there is no Will it is likely there will be no explanation as to why somebody who can claim under the Inheritance ( provision and dependents ) Act 1975 has not received reasonable financial provision. The Judge therefore won’t know the background to the decision to exclude somebody who would usually inherit e.g. a child or cohabitee from the Will. The Supreme Court in the case of Ilot gave guidance in particular it reasserted the importance of testamentary freedom i.e. an individual should be able to leave their estate to whom they wished. They felt that the Court of Appeal had put too little weight on this factor and that the exercise of considering whether reasonable provision has been made for a claimant should be with the testator’s wishes firmly in mind. That isn’t to say that that is the only factor they will take into account but it is a very important one. Claims of this nature can of course still arise but your Executors will be in a better position to deal with them. Should you require assistance in this specialist area of law Harrisons has two senior solicitors who are Associate Members of the prestigious Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Solicitors (ACTAPS) contact Anne Smith or Emma Serjeant on 01938552545

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