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Siblings overturn their mother’s will after family dispute

Posted: 10th November 2020   In: Dispute Resolution, Wills, Trusts and Probate

Four siblings have succeeded in overturing their mother’s will after the court agreed that she had not fully understood its consequences when she signed it.

The case pitted the mother’s first four children against her youngest child, the defendant.

In 2004, the mother and her husband had executed mirror wills, which meant that if the husband died first, she would leave their estate to her five children equally.

The husband died in April 2014.

On 16 September 2014, the mother attended the offices of a will writing company to make a new will. She was accompanied by her grandson, the defendant's son.

She revoked the 2004 will, and made a new will giving cash gifts of £5,000 each to three of the claimant siblings and a gift of £1,000 to the other. She left the rest of the estate (estimated to be worth in the region of £184,000) to the defendant. The mother died in 2016.

The four older siblings took the case to the High Court, which ruled in their favour.

It held that the evidence showed that for the latter period of her life, the mother was prepared to sign important documents suggested to her by members of her family without appreciating their detail or effect. There was a history of her doing so.

That was what had occurred in relation to the 2014 will. The grandson was present for a key part of the meeting at which the instructions for the new will were given. He had suggested that she should sign the new will and so she signed it.

In the circumstances, she did not know and approve the terms of the 2014 will. That will would be revoked, and the 2004 will would be reinstated.

Please contact Jonathan King or Benedict Smith if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.

[2020] EWHC 1481 (Ch)
(1) SUSAN CAROL MIDDLETON (2) STEPHEN PETER BREWER (3) ANDREW MARTIN BREWER (4) RICHARD DAVID BREWER v (1) LINDA KATHRYN BOORMAN (2) WILL CENTRE LTD (2020)
Ch D (James Pickering QC) 11/06/2020

 

Posted by: Jonathan King
Private Client
Berkhamsted Office