Ilot v The Blue Cross  UKSC 17, marks the first Supreme Court judgment ever given on claims made under the Inheritance Act 1975; the law which allows disinherited family members to make a claim against an Estate.
This landmark decision overturns the Court of Appeal's ruling which awarded £163,000 to a financially self-sufficient 40 year old lady (albeit in receipt of state benefits), who had been cut out of her mother's will in favour of charities.
Neil Long, Head of the Inheritance Disputes team, said: "Many will view this decision as the Supreme Court's attempt to put the brakes on the large increase in disinherited adults making claims against their parents' Estates. It is a decision that will be welcomed by most people involved in the Private Wealth sector, especially many charities who rely heavily on being left legacies.
"The decision does not really break new legal ground. In fact it reaffirms the 1980 case of In re Coventry as setting out the correct test to follow. But it does provide confirmation that the claim should be decided by weighing up all of the relevant circumstances, including the testator's express wishes, rather than deciding the case solely by reference to whether the will is perceived to be unfair or unreasonable.
"Lady Hale's unusual supplementary judgment comments on the different attitudes to inheritance across society and the fact that the legislation allows different judges to legitimately reach different conclusions on the same set of facts. This confirms the long held view that the outcome of Inheritance Act claims are incredibly difficult to predict.
"We hope the judgment will help to stave off inheritance disputes, but these days they seem to be driven as much by media coverage, complex families and no-win no-fee law firms, as by the letter of the law."