I’m glad a dead woman won the right to keep her daughter out of her will, even if it’s a sad reflection on her family

Janet Street-Porter
Heather Ilott, who has lost a challenge by three animal charities at the UK's highest court: PA Wire/PA Images

I’ve written several versions of my will, and the last time I decided to bring my final wishes up to date, several bequests were exorcised as I was no longer speaking to the people concerned.

Some family members had died and personal loyalties change. Wills are a fantastic way to settle scores, but unfortunately, changing them can cost a considerable sum in legal fees, which seems unfair. It should be possible to make alterations as simply as paying for a rail card.

Now, my generation of baby boomers have been accused of spending their kids’ inheritance, daring to have fun in retirement instead of scrimping and sitting on a nest egg for the offspring. There are television ads aimed at the senior property-rich generation, offering cash on our homes via equity release schemes – to fund our care, our travel and a better quality of life. Choose that attractive option and the kids won’t even get the benefit of the monumental rise in property prices, which has seen modest homes worth six figure sums. A great many homes where millennials occupy childhood bedrooms will be eventually returned to the finance company.

Melita Jackson was a woman who definitely harboured a grudge and reflected it in her will. She was deeply unhappy when her daughter left home at 17 to live with her boyfriend, who she later married. Disagreements continued, even after the birth of a grandchild.

Jackson cut her daughter out of her will, and most of her estate (worth nearly £500,000) was left to three animal charities. The daughter went to court, claiming that a judgement which gave her £143,000 to buy a house and £50,000 in cash was not enough. The Supreme Court has ruled that Melita Jackson’s will must stand, and she was entitled to leave her money to whoever she wanted.

I cannot comprehend the mentality which leaves nearly half a million pounds to animals at the expense of people – are there no children’s charities or organisations which help the elderly, or the Alzheimer’s Society, which would have benefited from this windfall? Having said that, thank goodness the right to dispose of our cash has been protected, but it is a sad reflection on this family that a daughter could not mend a relationship with her mother over 25 years.