Ilott v Mitson and Others: CA 27 Jul 2015

The claimant was the adult and long estranged daughter of her now deceased mother. The mother’s will left the estate entirely to animal charities. The daughter sought reasonable provision under the 1975 Act.
Held: The claimant’s appeal succeeded. The District Judge had made two ‘fundamental’ errors of principle, and these allowed the appeal court to re-evaluate the claim for itself: ‘he had held that the award should, in the light of the long estrangement and Mrs Ilott’s independent life and lack of expectation of benefit, be limited, but he had not identified what the award would have been without these factors and thus the reduction attributable to them; and ii) he had made his award of 50,000 pounds without knowing what the effect of it would be upon the benefits which Mrs Ilott and her family presently received.’
Setting aside the order of the District Judge, the Court made its own assessment of the proper award.
Arden LJ said: ‘In my judgment, what the court has to do is to balance the claims on the estate fairly. There is no doubt that, if the claimant for whom reasonable financial provision needs to be made is elderly or disabled and has extra living costs, consideration would have to be given to meeting those. In my judgment, the same applies to the case where a party has extra financial needs because she relies on state benefits, which must be preserved. Ms Reed submits that the provision of housing would not do this. I disagree. The provision of housing would enable her both to receive a capitalised sum and to keep her tax credits. If those benefits are not preserved then the result is that achieved by DJ Million’s order in this case: there is little or no financial provision for maintenance at all.
The claim of the appellant has to be balanced against that of the Charities but since they do not rely on any competing need they are not prejudiced by what may be a higher award than the court would otherwise need to make.
In my judgment, the right course is to make an award of the sum of 143,000 pounds, the cost of acquiring the Property, plus the reasonable expenses of acquiring it. That would remove the need to pay rent though some of that money may be required for meeting the expenses that she will have as owner. As Ms Stevens-Hoare submits, having the Property will enable her to raise capital (by equity release) when she needs further income in the future.
In addition, I would add to the award a further sum to provide for a very small additional income to supplement her state benefits without the necessity of an equity release. If my Lords agree, I would provide that she has an option, exercisable by notice in writing to the [executors] within two months of the date of this order (or within such longer period as the appellant and [they] may agree) to receive a capital sum not exceeding of andpound;20,000 out of the estate for this purpose. According to the current Duxbury tables in At a Glance for 2015/6, the sum 20,000 pounds would if invested give her 331 pounds net income per year for the rest of her life. This is not a large amount because of the factors which weigh against her claim, particularly the fact that she is an adult child living independently, Mrs Jackson’s testamentary wishes and to a small extent the appellant’s estrangement from Mrs Jackson.
The option may be exercised in part more than once provided that the total sum of 20,000 pounds is not thereby exceeded. I have expressed the provision of a capital sum as an option so that, if the award of a capital sum would result in the loss of benefits, she can if she wishes take a lesser sum, or (as she may prefer to do if she is advised that her benefits will not be prejudiced) she may take the lesser sum and spend it, and then exercise the option for an amount or amounts not exceeding the balance.’

Arden, Rymer LJJ, Sir Colin Rimer
[2015] EWCA Civ 797, [2016] 1 All ER 932, [2015] WTLR 1399, [2015] 2 FCR 547, [2015] Fam Law 1196, [2015] 2 FLR 1409
Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
England and Wales
See AlsoIlott v Mitson and Others CA 31-Mar-2011
The claimant, the estranged adult daughter of the deceased, had claimed under the 1975 Act. The judge made an order for payment of andpound;50,000 by way of capitalisation of maintenance. The claimant appealed saying she should have received more, . .
Appeal FromIlott v Mitson and Others FD 3-Mar-2014
The claimant sought to appeal against a decision on quantum made under the 1975 Act. The court had awarded her andpound;50k in capital by way of maintenance from her mother’s estate, where the mother had left the estate to animal charities. She had . .
CitedRe Christie (deceased) 1979
In an application under the 1975 Act, the judge treated maintenance as being equivalent to providing for the well-being or benefit of the applicant.
Mr Vivian Price QC said: ‘ ‘although reasonable financial provision means provision for the . .
CitedRe Dennis deceased ChD 1981
The courts have declined to define the word ‘maintenance’ closely. ‘Maintenance’ connotes only those payments which will directly or indirectly enable the applicant in the future to discharge the cost of his daily living at whatever standard of . .
CitedSnapes v Aram; Wade etc, In re Hancocks (Deceased) CA 1-May-1998
The adult daughter of the deceased claimed under the 1975 Act. The deceased had acted entirely reasonably in leaving his business land to those of his children who were active in the business, but after his death part of the land acquired a . .

Cited by:
Appeal fromIlott v The Blue Cross and Others SC 15-Mar-2017
What is reasonable provision for daughter
The deceased had left her estate in her will to several animal charities. The claimant, her daughter, had been estranged from her mother for many years, and sought reasonable provision from her estate under the 1975 Act. The district judge had . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Wills and Probate

Updated: 03 January 2022; Ref: scu.550609