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A Hertfordshire woman cut out of her mother's will has been awarded a £164,000 inheritance in what could prove to be a landmark ruling.

A Hertfordshire woman cut out of her mother's will has been awarded a £164,000 inheritance in what could prove to be a landmark ruling.

Heather Ilott of Ware went to court after her mother Melita Jackson died in 2004 and left her £486,000 estate to animal charities.

The Court of Appeal has now ruled that Mrs Ilott should receive a third of the estate.

The court heard that Mrs Jackson made her last will in 2002 and had included a letter explaining that her daughter had walked out of her home in 1978 to live with her boyfriend and, as a result, her mother had never forgiven her and did not want her to receive a penny of her estate. It was left to the RSPCA, RSPB and Blue Cross, charities with which Mrs Jackson had little connection.

Mrs Ilott later married her partner and they have five children. The Court of Appeal awarded her a third of the estate because her mother had not left "reasonable provision" for her in the will. She'll now be able to buy her housing association property and won't lose her state benefits.

The ruling means that you can still disinherit your children but that you will have to explain why and what connects you to those that you do leave money to. This will make it easier for adult disinherited children to challenge wills and to claim greater sums by way of “reasonable provision”.

This has been a long-running case; Mrs Ilott, an only child, had in 2007 won the right to an inheritance of £50,000 after a district judge concluded she had been "unreasonably" excluded by her mother. That ruling was subsequently reversed, before Appeal Court judges later ruled that she was indeed entitled to a share of the money.

When Mrs Ilott later appealed to get the amount increased, Mrs Justice Parker dismissed this at the High Court in London, ruling in March 2014 that the previous decision that £50,000 was an appropriate amount could not "be said to be wrong".

However, in the latest hearing Lady Justice Arden said Mrs Ilott's mother had been "unreasonable, capricious and harsh" and ruled she should receive a greater proportion of the estate.

To discuss this or any other matter relating to Wills, Probate or Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact Iain Robson on 01325 466461

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