Will Dispute

E&W High Court upholds mother’s decision to disinherit daughter for unkindness

A daughter’s bid to have her mother’s will overturned has failed with the High Court of England and Wales upholding a mother’s decision to disinherit her daughter for unkindness.


The mother who died in 2015 aged 96 made and executed a will in 2005 leaving a legacy to her daughter of just £100.


The daughter who had three siblings, one of whom had died before the will was executed, accused her surviving brother, who was also the executor of the will along with the solicitor, of forgery and undue influence over the will. She also alleged that her mother lacked both testamentary capacity and knowledge and approval of the will’s terms.


The will included an explanatory note, apparently drafted in 2003, stating that “Both my daughters, Beverley 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… I therefore have no desire that they should benefit from my estate over and beyond the legacies I have made in this will.”


The mother’s medical records were also available and showed no support for the allegation that her mother had suffered from dementia “since about 2001”, although it was evident that she had lost capacity later on. Moreover, the mother’s solicitor gave evidence that there was no question in his mind that she had been unduly influenced by the son or anyone else. Likewise, he had no doubt as to her mental capacity to make and execute the 2005 will, and if there had been the slightest doubt he would have arranged for a medical examination.


The Judge dismissed the claims entirely, noting in passing that the daughter’s accusation of forgery in the will’s execution would have required the collusion of all three independent witnesses. He duly found for the executors and granted probate to the 2005 will (Barnaby v Johnson, 2019 EWHC 3344 Ch).


In this case the Judge dismissed the claims, however this is not always the case, therefore if individuals want to ensure that their assets are passed on in accordance with their wishes an alternative would be to place assets into trust where possible.

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