Can I leave a family member out of my Will?

by | Sep 9, 2021 | Wills

FamilyYour Will should represent your unique and personal wishes as to who should inherit your assets and estate after your death. You should therefore be free to leave your estate to whoever you choose.

For some this poses potential difficulties particularly if you have fallen out and are estranged from a close family member.

Whilst you are perfectly entitled to leave this person out of your Will you need to be aware that under The Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975 they can apply to the court if they feel they have been disinherited and apply for provision to be made out of your estate .To do this they need to prove that it is needed for their maintenance or that they were dependant on you in some way.

More recently the Illott case has illustrated this point. The background to this case was that Mrs Jackson never forgave her teenage daughter for moving in with her boyfriend and later marrying him.

Mrs Jackson made her Will and expressly stated she did not want her daughter Mrs Illott to inherit anything from her estate.  In fact she left all her estate to several charities which she had no links or association with during her lifetime .She was quite determined  and her intentions clear that she wanted to disinherit her daughter.

Mrs Illott applied to the court under The Inheritance (PDF)Act 1975 and succeeded in being awarded £50,000. The matter was taken back to court and her award was increased before it finally reached The Supreme Court where the higher sum was reduced back to £50,000.

The important point here is that she successfully obtained this sum of money from Mrs Jackson`s estate despite it being obvious this is not what she had wanted when she made her Will.

There is nothing to stop a close family member making such an application to court after your death.

However, you can set out a letter of wishes explaining clearly why you are not providing for them and keep it with your Will.

Alternatively, you could make a small provision for them in your Will.


The information provided is of a general nature. It is not a substitute for specific advice in your own circumstances. You are recommended to obtain specific professional advice from an appropriate professional before you take any action or refrain from action. Whilst we endeavour to use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate, complete, reliable, error free and up-to-date information, we do not warrant that it is such. We and our associates disclaim all warranties. The information can only provide an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice.

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