Remember A Charity comments on Supreme Court’s decision to overturn legacy appeal

15 March 2017

Remember A Charity welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision today to overturn the Court of Appeal’s 2015 decision on Melita Jackson’s estate, in which the majority of the estate is allocated to three charities (Blue Cross, RSPB and RSPCA).

“We respect a family’s right to challenge or contest a decision, but welcome today’s ruling and the clarity that it gives charities,” says Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity.

“The danger with a case like this is that it pitches family against charity, when in reality this is about ensuring a person’s final wishes are met. We have a flexible Will system and that means it doesn’t have to be a case of one versus the other. If someone chooses to leave a gift to charity in their Will, they should have the freedom to do that, always remembering that this can be supplementary to any gift to family and friends.

“But this does underline the importance of ensuring that anyone’s last wishes are set out clearly. The fact is that contested Wills are becoming more common[1], so it is important for charities to reduce the likelihood of a legal battle by encouraging supporters who want to leave a legacy to seek professional advice when writing a Will.” 

This was the first time that the Supreme Court had been asked to consider the provisions of the Inheritance Act 1975. The decision closes a 13-year old case, following the death of Mrs Jackson in 2004.


[1] Source: Ministry of Justice, October 2015. 178 probate disputes were heard in the High Court in 2014, compared to 97 in 2013.