High Court Will Battle ‘Highlights Need For Accurate Will’

Expert Comments On Dispute Over Grandmother's Will

22.02.2012

A contested will dispute in which a family has successfully argued to get a businesswoman removed from her grandmother’s Will demonstrates why it is vital to get comprehensive legal advice from a solicitor when putting plans in place for the future, an expert at Irwin Mitchell has revealed.

In a High Court battle, Judge Robert Miles QC ruled that the will of Bridget Murray should be changed after her sons and daughter claimed that her granddaughter Caroline Barrett only stood to receive an inheritance as a result of an error in the drafting.

The court was told that Mrs Murray did not want Mrs Barrett or her brother, who stood to benefit following the death of their mother Monica, to receive a share from her £220,000 Will.

It was claimed that one of the reasons why was because the deceased did not approve of Mrs Barrett’s decision to live with her boyfriend before marriage.

Adam Draper, an associate solicitor in Irwin Mitchell’s Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team, said that the case once again highlighted just how important it is to ensure a Will is fully accurate and in line with your wishes.

He outlined: “While there has been interest in this case due to the ‘wedlock’ angle, it has to be remembered that the law allows people to leave their estate to anyone they wish as a fundamental right. However, there are still very important lessons that people who are writing a Will can learn from this case.

“Ultimately, the issue all comes down to accuracy, as what was bound to be a costly and emotionally draining legal battle could have potentially been avoided if the Will had been thoroughly checked and any errors identified before the death.

“We would always urge anyone either writing or amending a Will to get the best possible advice on the documents, ensuring they are drafted accurately in a manner which fully reflects their wishes and how they would like an estate to be split up.”

Adam added that another key issue raised by this case is how it highlights the changing nature of relationships and family life in the 21st century.

He explained: “More and more people are now living with partners before marriage or simply cohabiting with no intention of tying the knot.

“While it may not be the fundamental issue in this case, it is important to remind cohabitees that they have Wills in place to reflect their circumstances. Otherwise, in the event of their death, their partner would not be in line to receive any inheritance.

“Dying intestate can cause major problems for families, friends and loved ones, so we would urge people to always have provisions in place.”

If you are involved in a will dispute or need further information about contesting a will, please visit our Will, Trust & Estate Disputes section