Challenging the validity of a Will

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Contentious probate lawyer Naomi Ireson looks at a recent court decision on challenging the validity of a Will.

The High Court has decided in favour of two children who were challenging the validity of a Will made by their mother on the grounds of ‘want of knowledge and approval’.

 

The case concerned the last Will of Joanna Abraham which left her estate to her brother and his wife. The Will was in stark contrast to Joanna’s previous Will which had left her estate to be divided equally between her two children.

The court was told that Joanna had asked her brother to prepare her new Will and that he had used an online Will kit to draft it. He said Joanna had given him clear instructions that she wanted to leave her estate to him and his wife, rather than her children.

Having prepared the Will, Joanna’s brother read it to her and sent her copies by email and post. He also gave her a bound version for her to sign. Joanna read the Will herself in front of her lodger. The lodger and a neighbour then witnessed Joanna’s signature, and according to her brother she retained the signed version.

Joanna’s children challenged the validity of the Will, arguing that it had been created in suspicious circumstances, and was inconsistent with their mother’s voice recordings made just before the Will was executed, and social media messages from around the same time.

After hearing the evidence the judge concluded that Joanna had not understood the effect of her Will and that her brother had contributed to her misunderstanding. Joanna had actually wanted her estate to pass to her brother simply so that he could divide it between her two children, not for him to retain it himself.

At the trial the brother’s evidence was inconsistent. He also failed to disclose his own and Joanna’s mobile phones, and the witnesses he called to support his case ove Joanna’s reasons for disinheriting her children lacked credibility.

Accordingly, the later Will was declared invalid and Joanna’s estate will be distributed to her two children in line with her earlier Will.

 

If you require guidance on challenging the validity of a Will, give our free legal helpline a call on 0333 888 0404, or send brief details to us by email at [email protected]

Picture of Naomi Ireson

Naomi Ireson

Naomi is a specialist inheritance dispute lawyer and one of England’s leading practitioners in this complex field.Her areas of practice include claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, challenges to the validity of wills and beneficial interest claims involving estoppel and constructive trusts. She also deals with Court of Protection cases.
Picture of Naomi Ireson

Naomi Ireson

Naomi is a specialist inheritance dispute lawyer and one of England’s leading practitioners in this complex field.Her areas of practice include claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, challenges to the validity of wills and beneficial interest claims involving estoppel and constructive trusts. She also deals with Court of Protection cases.

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