Divorcee's Appeal Of Mother-In-Law's Will Show Judges Are Moving The Goalposts For Similar Claims, Say Lawyers

Colin Randall Alleges His Late Mother-In-Law’s Will Was Forged To Defeat An Order Made In Divorce Proceedings


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A decision by the Court of Appeal to grant a divorced husband permission to challenge the validity of his former mother-in-law’s will could open the floodgates for similar claims, leading will dispute lawyers say.

Julia Burns, expert will, trust and estate disputes lawyer at Irwin Mitchell said the Randall vs Randall case, in which Colin Randall applied to the court to bring a claim alleging that his late mother-in-law’s will had been forged in an attempt to defeat an order made in divorce proceedings, could pave the way for many more similar claims.

As part of a divorce settlement, Mr Randall’s wife, Hilary Randall had agreed that if she inherited more than £100,000 from her mother, anything over £100,000 would be split equally between her and her husband.

But when her mother died, the will left exactly £100,000 to Mrs Randall, and the balance of the estate - approximately £150,000 – was left to her children.

When Mr Randall launched proceedings to challenge the validity of the will, Deputy Master Collaço Moraes said he did not have sufficient interest in the will and therefore, no standing to bring a claim.

Mrs Randall’s legal team argued at the Court of Appeal hearing, that only those who had an interest in the estate could challenge a will, for example; under a previous will or under intestacy.

They said that as Mr Randall was a ‘stranger to the estate’ he therefore had insufficient interest to bring a claim.

However Lord Justice McCombe said it would be “highly unjust” that if a will had been forged in an attempt to defeat an order made in divorce proceedings, the party affected could not challenge the validity of the will in probate proceedings.

Expert Opinion
“It would appear that the Courts have taken a lenient approach to Mr Randall’s case, seemingly sympathising with his position.

“The courts have interpreted the rules around who has a right to make a claim more flexibly than previous Courts have done, and have extended its application to people who are in Mr Randall’s position.

“This case seems to be have been decided on very specific facts however, it could move the goalposts to allow similar exceptional claims."
Julia Burns, Associate

The Court of Appeal granted permission for a full hearing to decide on the validity of the will which should take place later this year.