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“Unreasonable” Disinheritance Overturned

HouseThe normal rule is that a person can do whatever he or she wishes with an estate plan, as long as a few basic principles are taken into consideration, such as taking care of a spouse. Although most people choose to leave assets to their adult children, there is no requirement to do so. However, a recent ruling in the UK calls that into question.

Heather Ilott's father passed away when she was too young to remember him. He left behind a small, but not inconsiderable, estate from his earnings and compensation for his death which went to Ilott's mother, Melita Jackson.

At the age of 17, Ilott eloped with her teenage boyfriend. Despite attempts at reconciliation, Jackson never forgave her daughter.

Many years later, Ilott was impoverished and her mother passed away, still having a portion of the father's estate left. Despite her daughter's financial need, Jackson, still upset at the elopement, left her entire estate to charity. Normally, that would be the end of the story, but Ilott decided to sue for her mother's estate.

Over a decade later, the United Kingdom court system has ruled in Ilott's favor. The court ruled that Jackson acted cruelly and unreasonably in disinheriting her daughter.

Ilott was awarded a portion of the estate, most of which will go towards purchasing the house in which she lives.

The Guardian reported this story in "Daughter wins £164,000 after decade-long legal battle with will over charities."

Whether this is a new trend in resolving disinheritance disputes that might someday make its way to the United States remains to be seen. If you are considering a “disinheritance” as part of your estate plan, be sure to engage the services of an experienced estate planning attorney who practices in your state.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: The Guardian (July 27, 2015) "Daughter wins £164,000 after decade-long legal battle with will over charities."

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Disinherited Son Sues Siblings

20bd64ceaf3bd892229d374d75d41354_disinheritance_featuredImageWhen one child is left out of a will without explanation, it often leads to problems with other siblings. Such is the case with one son of wealthy mining magnate Harry Magnuson, who is suing his siblings over an inheritance.

In 2002, Harry Magnuson and his wife Colleen had wills drawn up that left everything to the surviving spouse. Upon the death of the surviving spouse, the overall estate was to be divided equally among their five children.

Harry passed away in 2009 and Colleen received everything as planned. However, when she passed away, everything was not divided equally between all of the children.

Colleen had signed a new will in 2011 that revoked the 2002 will and completely disinherited her son, Thomas. The remaining four children inherited everything. Thomas was not amused.

Apparently, the new will was prepared by a notary working in the law office of one of the other Magnuson siblings. This has predictably led to problems.

Thomas Magnuson is suing his siblings, claiming that they conspired to unduly influence their mother to have him cut out of the will. The Spokesman-Review reported this story in a recent article titled "Magnuson son sues siblings."

It is too soon to know what will happen in this case. This is yet another example of what happens when there is a lot of money at stake and a family member does not think that he or she was treated fairly in an estate plan.

Even if the other four siblings are found to have not unduly influenced their mother to rewrite her will, this case will likely cost the family a lot of money and hurt feelings.

If you really want to disinherit one of your descendants, be sure to contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: The Spokesman-Review (July 24, 2015) "Magnuson son sues siblings."

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