Bolt Burdon Win High Court Will Dispute
In May 2015, our Will dispute team represented a client in a 4 day High Court trial. Our client was defending a claim made by her brother challenging the validity of their late mother’s last Will.
In 2008, at the age of 90, the deceased instructed a solicitor to draft her last Will, leaving her estate in unequal shares to her 7 children. Under the Will, our client took a 50% share of the estate, with various smaller shares going to the remaining 6 children, and the claimant taking only 2% of the estate.
The deceased stated her reasons for dividing her estate in this way – she said that our client was the most caring of her 7 children, and the claimant had bullied and harassed her, and attempted to steal from her.
The claimant argued that our client had turned his mother against him and that the thoughts she had about him were untrue. He wanted the Will revoked on the grounds that his mother lacked mental capacity to make the Will and/or that she did not have sufficient knowledge and approval of the Will.
If the Court had agreed with the claimant it would have meant that the deceased’s previous Will, made in 2006, would stand as her last valid instructions, leaving her estate equally between the 7 children.
Unfortunately, in this case, the solicitor who drafted the Will in 2008 did not obtain a medical opinion as to the deceased’s mental capacity at the time. It was therefore necessary to obtain retrospective expert medical opinions. The two experts instructed were of the opinion that, if the reasons given by the deceased, for changing her Will in 2008, were untrue then she may have been suffering from insane delusions and thus the Will would be invalid. The outcome of the trial therefore turned on whether those reasons were reasonable assumptions or not.
We were confident that, with the witness evidence of our client, the evidence of a friend of the deceased, and the evidence of the solicitor who drafted the Will in 2008, we could successfully defend the case. Following a 4 day trial, where the circumstances of the Will were thoroughly reviewed, the Judge agreed with our position and ordered that the 2008 Will was valid and should stand.