Mother leaves estate to animal charities, will overturned

Judge awards $200K to daughter collecting benefits

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Britain’s Court of Appeal has overturned the will of a mother who had chosen to give her estate to animal charities rather than her only child.

The mother, Melita Jackson, should have given a reasonable provision to her daughter, Heather Ilott, who is living on benefits and has no pension, Judge Mary Arden says. In its ruling, the court also says Jackson had no connection with the charities named in the will.

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The pair had been estranged for 26 years, after Ilott left home at 17 to live with her soon-to-be husband. Several efforts at reconciliation failed.

Jackson died in June 2004, leaving almost all her 486,000 pounds ($758,000) estate to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Blue Cross, a charity for abandoned animals.

The court awarded 143,000 pounds ($223,000) to Ilott, who lives north of London in Hertfordshire county, so she could buy her rented home from a housing association and a further 20,000 pounds in cash as “additional income.”

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The charities say in a statement that the ruling could have serious ramifications for non-profit groups that receive income from bequests, and “raises serious questions about whether people generally have the freedom to choose who they want to leave money to in their will.”

They add they’d consider whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

6 comments on “Mother leaves estate to animal charities, will overturned

  1. Of course, charity will fight back. After all, they are businesses too.

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  2. I’m hoping this get’s overturned in a higher court. There should be no obligation to adult children, estranged or not. It’s your choice and your money. I have a somewhat similar situation and this ruling (albeit in England) is worrisome.

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    • Children are not entitled to parent’s money. Our fellow animals need the cash. The daughter sounds like a horrible person and no wonder the mother chose not to remember her. It was her decision and the charities should collect full force for what is theirs.

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  3. What kind of a woman would rather give money to abandoned animals than her abandoned daughter? I applaud this ruling. A lesson to all those who draw up wills that they had better think through the terms of their will rationally and with respect to the surviving members of their family, rather than emotionally and vindictively, trying to punish children from beyond the grave. If the charities seek to appeal, all I can say is shame on them.

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    • Agreed and well said.

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  4. Britain’s Court of Appeal has overturned the will of a mother who had chosen to give her estate to animal charities rather than her only child.

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