When Melita Jackson died in 2004, she made it very clear she did not want her estranged daughter, Heather Ilott, to benefit , and so left her estate to animal charities with which she had little connection.

The relationship between mother and daughter soured when, aged 17, Heather eloped with her future husband.

Heather Ilott was awarded a third of the estate because her mother had not left "reasonable provision" for her in the will. (She will now be able to buy her housing association property and will not lose her state benefits).

This landmark ruling means that you can still disinherit your children, but you will have to explain why and what connects you to those individuals or charities to whom you do bequeath money.

This could make it easier for adult "disinherited" children to challenge wills and claim greater sums by way of reasonable provision.

For charities this is no doubt a disappointing decision, particularly as it fetters the individual's freedom to choose who will receive his/her property when he/she dies.