Ilott 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 rejected her claim.
Held: The appeal by the charities succeeded. The District Judge had not made the two errors suggested by the Court of Appeal: ‘The Act requires a single assessment by the judge of what reasonable financial provision should be made in all the circumstances of the case. It does not require the judge to fix some hypothetical standard of reasonable provision and then either add to it, or discount from it, by percentage points or otherwise, for variable factors. To the contrary, the section 3 factors, which are themselves all variables and which are likely often to be in tension one with another, are all to be considered so far as they are relevant, and in the light of them a single assessment of reasonable financial provision is to be made. There is no warrant in the Act for requiring a process of the kind suggested by the Court of Appeal. If the judge were to arrive at a figure for reasonable financial provision without one or more of the relevant facts in the case, he would not be undertaking the assessment required by the Act.’
The second alleged error was a suggested failure by the DJ to allow for the effect of the order on the state benefits received by the claimant. In fact the judge, though he may have: ‘interpreted the statutory requirement for the award to be for maintenance as pointing to such an approach, these items which Mrs Ilott needed to make the household function properly can perfectly sensibly fit within the concept of maintenance. The Court of Appeal rightly said that the 1975 Act is not designed to provide for a claimant to be gifted a ‘spending spree’. But this kind of necessary replacement of essential household items is not such an indulgence; rather it is the maintenance of daily living. Moreover, how the claimant might use the award of pounds 50,000 was of course up to her, but if a substantial part of it were spent in this way, the impact on the family’s benefits would be minimised, because she could put the household onto a much sounder footing without for long retaining capital beyond the 16,000 pounds ceiling at which entitlement to Housing and Council Tax Benefits is lost.’


Lord Neuberger, President, Lady Hale, Deputy President, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Hughes


[2017] UKSC 17, [2017] WLR(D) 185, UKSC 2015/0203


Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, WLRD


Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938


England and Wales


Appeal fromIlott 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 . .
At First InstanceIlott 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 pounds 50k in capital by way of maintenance from her mother’s estate, where the mother had left the estate to animal charities. She had . .
CitedIn re Coventry dec’d ChD 2-Jan-1979
The court set out the general approach to applications under the 1975 Act: ‘these matters have to be considered at two stages – first in determining the reasonableness of such provision (if any) as has been made by the deceased for the applicant’s . .
CitedIn Re Coventry (deceased) CA 3-Jan-1979
The deceased’s adult son sought provision from the intestate estate. The sole beneficiary under the rules was the plaintiff’s mother. The estate was modest; the intestate’s interest in his house (he had been living there with the plaintiff). The . .
CitedIn re Dennis (Deceased) 1981
The now deceased father had made lifetime gifts to the son. The son now faced substantial liabilities for capital transfer tax, and asked the court to provide for his from the estate under the 1975 Act.
Held: The claim failed. The payment of . .
CitedLadd v Marshall CA 29-Nov-1954
Conditions for new evidence on appeal
At the trial, the wife of the appellant’s opponent said she had forgotten certain events. After the trial she began divorce proceedings, and informed the appellant that she now remembered. He sought either to appeal admitting fresh evidence, or for . .
CitedHarlow v National Westminster Bank Plc and Others; in re Jennings Dec CA 13-Dec-1993
The adult non-dependent son of the deceased claimed provision from his father’s estate. He had been separated from his father since being a young child, and had received almost nothing. He was a married adult son living with his family in . .
First AppealIlott 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 pounds 50,000 by way of capitalisation of maintenance. The claimant appealed saying she should have received more, and . .
CitedHyman v Hyman HL 1929
The husband had left the wife for another woman. The parties had entered into a deed of separation under which the husband had paid two lump sums and agreed to make weekly payments of 20 pounds for the life of the wife. The deed included a covenant . .
CitedIn re E, deceased 1966
Possible receipt by a family member in receipt of state support greater than the testator could sensibly provide may be an understandable reason why it was reasonable for the deceased not to make financial provision for that family member. The . .
CitedGurasz v Gurasz CA 1970
Lord Denning MR described ‘the husband’s duty to provide his wife with a roof over her head’ as ‘elemental in our society’ . .
CitedLord Lilford v Glyn CA 1979
The judge had ordered the father to make money settlements on his daughters which had no relation to accommodation or their need during minority.
Held: The judge had gone quite ouside the jurisdiction of the Act, and the appeal succeeded. . .
CitedCameron v Treasury Solicitor 1996
The claimant was the former wife of the deceased. She had been divorced from him 19 years before his death and their matrimonial finances had been settled by a lump sum paid to her as a clean break. There had been no financial relationship between . .
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 . .
CitedPiglowska v Piglowski HL 24-Jun-1999
No Presumption of House for both Parties
When looking to the needs of parties in a divorce, there is no presumption that both parties are to be left able to purchase alternative homes. The order of sub-clauses in the Act implies nothing as to their relative importance. Courts should be . .
CitedMyers v Myers and Orhers FD 3-Aug-2004
The court ordered, from a very large estate, provision which included housing, but he did so by way not of an outright capital sum but of a life interest in a trust fund together with power of advancement designed to cater for the possibility of . .
CitedHope and Another v Knight ChD 15-Dec-2010
The separated widow and the deceased’s daughter sought reasonable provision from the estate. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Wills and Probate, Benefits

Leading Case

Updated: 30 June 2022; Ref: scu.580731