Contentious Probate Case Studies

Contentious Probate Cases

1.      Mr G

Mr G died intestate, and his brother was dealing with the estate. According to his brother, Mr G had always lived alone, never married and had no children. The brother was the person entitled to his estate on intestacy.

Shortly after Mr G’s death, Mrs P said that she was the daughter of Mr G and that he had been married to her mother. Her mother and grandparents were now deceased, and were unable to confirm this story, but she said Mr G worked away a lot and spent many months away from them, working on oil rigs etc.  The brother confirmed that Mr G did go to work on the oil rigs for many months but repeated that he had no idea of this second family  and life Mr G allegedly had.

A claim was made against the estate by the daughter under the Inheritance Act. Her birth certificate was produced but this showed father “unknown”. An urgent DNA test was ordered to prove whether she was the child of Mr G, as this had to be done within 10 days of the death. The DNA test was 99.97% positive. Her claim was therefore successful and she received the entire estate. She also gained a new family who welcomed her into the fold!

2.      Mrs M

Mrs M had 3 children, but made a will leaving her estate to just one child.  She instructed her solicitor at the time of making the will that she was not providing for the other 2 as they had not been in contact with her, and when her husband (their father) died they were very unpleasant and treated her very badly. The daughter that she was providing for (Mrs F) had visited her every day, and when she became poorly and needed an oxygen tank she cared for her every day. She gave several examples of instances when her other children had not treated her or her husband right; for example on one occasion the neighbours rang the police as they were concerned for Mrs M’s safety when one of the children was present and aggressive.

Mrs M died, and the other 2 children made a claim against the estate under the Inheritance Act. They were adults who were both working and not on benefits, and were married with their own children. Mrs M had not financially provided for them since they were young, and had provided a letter of wishes with her will giving a clear statement that she had considered whether to put them in her will, but decided not to.

The claim was successfully defended on this basis, and Mrs F received the entire estate.

3.      Mrs D

Mrs D had separated from her husband but never divorced him. She had never made a will and died intestate. Mrs D had 2 children from a previous relationship, however by not making a Will the main beneficiary of her estate was her estranged husband.

The children made a claim against the estate under the Inheritance Act on the basis that they should have been provided for from the estate of their deceased mother. The children had been provided for by their mother even leading up to her death, and as a result a settlement was reached out of Court whereby they received the bulk of the estate.

4.      Mr K

Mr K had been married to Mrs K for over 20 years at the time of his death.  Both had children from previous relationships but they had raised them together in the family home that Mr K had bought with his first wife.  This house was in his sole name even though Mrs K had sold her own home to move in with him and used the proceeds for the good of the family as a whole.

Unfortunately, Mr K’s son and Mrs K came to have a turbulent relationship once he reached his twenties, with occasions when he was both verbally and physically aggressive towards her.  Mr K died and left Mrs K a life interest in the family home with the provision that upon her death, or if she vacated the property for more than 180 days or remarried, the home would pass to his son absolutely.   Mr K’s son interpreted this provision as giving him the right to enter the home as and when he wished to do so, which given the difficulties in the relationship Mrs K was very anxious about.  She also wished to have a clean break from the property which held certain unhappy memories.

Whilst initially Mr K’s son was unwilling to discuss an alternative arrangement, at mediation the parties agreed that the family home would be sold and Mrs K received the bulk of the proceeds of sale in order to purchase a new home for herself close to where her daughter and family lived.

We hope you found our contentious probate cases helpful. More will be provided in the coming months.

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