Mediation resolves contested will and inheritance claim

Naomi Ireson recently reached settlement of a claim following a successful mediation on behalf of the claimant.

The claimant, Mr K, initiated two claims:

The first was a contested will claim. He argued that the Will of his late stepfather was invalid for want of testamentary capacity.

The second was a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependent) Act 1975 against the estate in his late mother.

The defendants were professional executors, together with Mr K’s stepsister (the daughter of his stepfather and stepdaughter of his mother).

Mr K's mother died leaving a Will which left her entire estate to her husband (Mr K’s stepfather). The Will specified that if her husband died before her, the estate would be split between their children. Mr K’s stepfather made a mirror Will providing for the same terms.

However, following Mr K’s mother's death, his stepfather changed his Will. In his new Will he left his entire estate to his biological daughter only.

At the time that the new Will was executed by Mr K’s stepfatherr, medical records suggested that he was suffering from mental impairment.

Mr K therefore consulted us and we pursued the two claims in parallel.

We argued that Mr K did not have testamentary capacity and the later Will was therefore invalid.

Although our client had no standing to bring an Inheritance Act claim against his step-father's estate we advised him that he could still make an inheritance claim against his mother's estate. Despite Mr K’s mother having died some years previous, probate was never granted in her estate because the assets transferred to her husband. Mr K was therefore still in time to bring a claim under the 1975 Act against his late mother’s estate.

Despite both claims being robustly defended, the case proceeded to mediation.

All parties saw the sense of reaching an out of court settlement and the dispute was resolved by negotiation.

Mr K agreed to accept a lump sum of £45,000 which was a very good result given the difficulties his claim faced as an independent adult child bringing a 1975 Act claim together with the absence of clear evident to support the allegations of lack of capacity.

If you would like guidance on contesting a will or bringing an inheritance claim then call our FREE helpline on 0808 139 1596 or email us at info@contesting-wills.co.uk