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Disinheriting a naughty child

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

In October 2019 the acrimonious case of Rea v Rea determined that a mother was able to disinherit sons who had failed to look after her in her old age.

Now a further case has again upheld the right of a testator to reflect feelings towards a child in their Will.

The December 2019 Patricia Johnson challenged the Will of her mother, Maudlin Bascoe. The Will of her mother provided that Patricia would only receive a legacy of £100. It emerged that Maudlin Bascoe’s previous Will had treated all four of her children equally with an inheritance of £10,000 each.

In 2005, Mrs Bascoe instructed a solicitor to draft an updated Will which expressed a desire to leave her daughters nothing “beyond the legacies I have made in this Will”. Those legacies were £100 to Patricia Johnson and £500 to her other daughter Beverley.

The remainder of Maudlin Bascoe’s Estate was left to her son Barnaby. He was also appointed as joint Executor with the solicitor.

When Mrs Bascoe died in 2015 aged 87 Patricia Johnson claimed the Will should be declared invalid for lack of capacity on her mother’s part. She also alleged undue influence had been exerted by Barnaby and that her mother’s signature had been forged.

At trial the Court found overwhelmingly against the claims. As a matter of fact it was found that despite Patricia’s claim that her mother had dementia in 2001 – 4 years before she made her Will – the medical records showed that the issue was first raised by the family in 2008. An official diagnosis was made in February 2009.

The Court found that Patricia came “nowhere near establishing the basis for any proper challenge” and found in favour of the 2005 Will. The allegation of forgery was rejected on the basis that it would mean that all three independent witnesses had also colluded in the forgery.

The Court was also assisted by an explanatory note provided by Maudlin Bascoe which stated:

“I have deemed it prudent to place within my Will a note explaining the disparity in the amounts that I have left to my children and in particular the pecuniary legacies to my daughters Beverley and Patricia.

Both my daughters, Beverly and Patricia, have shown very little care and concern for me in my later years and in particular they have both been rude, unpleasant and in some instances physically violent and abusive towards me and have verbally expressed their lack of care and concern with such statements as “you should be placed in a home and die in there”.

I therefore have no desire that they should benefit from my estate over and beyond the legacies I have made in this Will”.

This is a case which shows the importance of making a Will properly. It’s often not just the Will but the evidence of how and why it was made that is important. Thankfully in this case the evidence was there and the Will was upheld.

Those parents with children whose attitude is less than desirable in their adult lives can feel reassured that they can make Wills that will stand up to a challenge in Court.

If you need assistance with preparing a Will or amending a Will give us a call; we’re all the help you need.

Jennifer Laskey

Posted:

Jennifer Laskey

Partner

Jennifer is a Solicitor and Partner with 21 years experience advising clients in relation to litigated Will disputes. A Legal 500 recognised lawyer, Jennifer is a full member of ACTAPs and has resolved multi-million pound disputes for clients in Courts across England.