The charity sector has expressed concern after the Court of Appeal ruled that a woman should receive £163,000 that her mother had specified in her will should be left to three animal charities.
The court granted Heather Ilott the sum on the grounds that her mother, Melita Jackson, did not leave "reasonable provision" for her and she would otherwise face a life of poverty.
Experts have warned the decision could lead to more legal challenges to the terms of wills, which brought £1.24bn to 76 charities over the 12 months to March, according to the charity legacy consortium Legacy Foresight.
Jackson left all of her £486,000 estate to the Blue Cross, the RSPB and the RSPCA. The will included a letter that instructed her executors to defend any claim made by her daughter.
Ilott first won the right to some money from the estate in 2007, when a district judge ruled that she had been "unreasonably" excluded by her mother. She was awarded £50,000. In a bid to get more, Ilott launched a series of appeals in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Alex McDowell, chair of Remember A Charity, said that it was "deeply concerned" about the potential impact on charities of this ruling. The animal charities involved were unable to confirm to Third Sector how much they had spent on the case.