Under the traditional rules of English law, a person is free to leave his money and assets in whatever way he pleases in his will and no relative or person has a right to receive any money or assets if not provided under the will. Since 1975, spouses and children (as well as others) may have the right to claim capital or monthly sums from the estate of a person who has died provided that the deceased was maintaining the applicant at the date of death.

This week the Supreme Court has granted the right to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal to award money to Mrs Heather Ilott who challenged the will of her mother, Mrs Melita Jackson, from whom she had been estranged for 26 years. The traditional right of people under English law to leave money and assets to whom they wish in their will has been put under severe test in this case. This is the first time the Supreme Court will be asked to consider the provisions of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The case is likely to be heard in early 2017.