The case of a woman who secured £164,000 from her mother’s Will despite being excluded from it has led the life industry to recommend trusts as a more secure way to distribute wealth upon death.
Heather Ilot received the figure from her mother Melita Jackson’s will after the Court of Appeal deemed her exclusion as “unreasonable, capricious and harsh”, despite Ilot permanently eloping at age 17 with her boyfriend.
Greg Pogonowski, Senior Associate at Lime Financial planning, said the ruling confirms that people must have a good reason to disinherit their children and be able to demonstrate what connects them to others that have been named in their Wills instead.
A more secure way to control the distribution of wealth beyond the grave would be the use of a trust, given that the Inheritance Act 1975 allows a court to “override” the general principle of testamentary freedom in certain situations where it is considered “just and equitable”.
Whilst some commentators seem to consider that trusts are merely mechanisms to alleviate tax, their longest standing use is to ensure that the right people benefit, by the right amount, at the right time. As well as the Inheritance Act 1975 not applying to trusts, another useful feature in providing certainty is that trusts are confidential, unlike Wills that become public knowledge once Probate has been obtained, and available for anyone to scrutinise through the Probate Registry.
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