Daughter Loses in Odd Battle Over Estranged Mom's Will

She was upset her mom cut her out of her will in favor of animal charities
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2017 7:26 PM CDT

(Newser) – After a 10-year legal fight over her mother's will, Heather Ilott lost this week. The UK woman became estranged from her mother in 1978 when Ilott, at 17, went to live with her boyfriend, who ultimately became her husband. In 2002, Ilott's mother, Melita Jackson, made her last will, specifically noting that Ilott had been disinherited and instructing executors to fight any claim Ilott might attempt to make on the estate. Jackson died in 2004, leaving the majority of her $600,000 estate to animal charities. In 2007, Ilott challenged the will under the Inheritance Act, which allows a child to sue if a parent's will does not reasonably provide for their maintenance, per the Evening Standard. She argued she had been "unreasonably" excluded and that she, now a mother of five herself, was living on state benefits because she had no pension. A district judge awarded her about $60,000 of the estate.

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Quite a bit of back-and-forth followed, per the BBC: Ilott then tried to get more of the money, leading a High Court judge to reverse the district judge's decision, awarding Ilott nothing. In 2011, the Court of Appeal ruled she should get some of the money, but in 2014, again battling to get more of the money, the High Court denied her. The following year, however, she won a challenge at the Court of Appeal, which heard testimony that she couldn't even afford clothes for her children, and was awarded about $200,000. But three of the animal charities that were named in Jackson's will then challenged that increase, and now the Supreme Court has ruled in their favor. It's the first time a suit under the Inheritance Act has made it to the highest court, the Telegraph reports. Ilott will still get the original $60,000 she was awarded. (This $20 million inheritance came with quite a few rules.)

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