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Is your Will your final say?

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You may have seen in the papers yesterday that Lynda Bellingham’s sons are in the process of challenging her Will, in which she left everything to her husband, their step-father. Many people think that when they make a Will that is their final wishes.  Certainly any time up to your death you can change your Will, but what happens after your death – can it be changed? There are two ways a Will can be changed after your death: The first one is by a Deed of Variation.  This is a Deed that can be drawn up that alters the terms of the Will and who will benefit, however it can only be done with the consent of any beneficiaries it would affect.  For example if a husband left all his assets to his wife but she did not need the benefit of everything, she can then enter into a Deed of Variation to give some of the assets to the children.  We have seen this week that David Cameron received a gift from his mother of £200,000 from his father’s estate to equalise his inheritance with his brother’s – this was done by a gift from his mother, but this is something that could have been done with a Deed of Variation. The second way a Will can be changed is by bringing a claim before the Court, as Lynda Bellingham’s sons have done. The case of Ilott v Mitson is a good example of what a Court can do.   Mrs Ilott’s mother died leaving her estate worth £486,000 to various charities.  There was no provision for Mrs Ilott in the Will, who was estranged from her mother.   Mrs Ilott  made an application to the Court under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975  claiming that the Will failed to make reasonable provision for her.     In the first instance the Court awarded her the sum of £50,000, this was appealed by the Charities, however the Court of Appeal upheld her right to monies but revised the amount she was awarded to £164,000, which the Court stated would be sufficient for her to buy a property and have £20,000 from which her income needs could be met.   The Charities have been given permission to Appeal this, so this may not be the final word. If you require any advice or assistance in any of the issues raised please contact me at rbrough@fidler.co.uk or telephone me on 01623 448331.   Rebecca

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