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Four-Year Will Dispute ‘Highlights Need For Caution’

Case Highlights Dangers Of Costly And Time-Consuming Battles


By Rob Dixon

Legal experts have urged people to think carefully about taking legal action in relation to a loved one’s will and ensure they always seek specialist advice to settle any such issues quickly, following a high-profile case in which siblings were left with nothing following a long court battle.

Reports have revealed how the children of Daphne Burgess became locked in a four-year battle over the terms of her will, with her son Peter and daughter Libby contesting the will which was made in the presence of their sister Julia.

Following the six-day trial in relation to the will dispute, judges ruled in favour of Mr Burgess and stated that his mother was unable to have full knowledge and approval for the new will. A previous will signed in 1996 was split three ways and now takes precedence.

However, it was revealed that the cost of the legal battle had been much higher than the total value of the £162,000 estate which it related to.

Irwin Mitchell’s Will, Trust and Estate Dispute team specialise in helping people who have concerns over a loved one’s will  to take action to gain access to the inheritance they believe they deserve.

Commenting on this case, Adam Draper, a Partner and expert based at the national law firm’s Sheffield office, said: “This is an awful example of how legal battles over wills can prove time-consuming and costly, while it also demonstrates the huge toll that such action can take on relationships between families and friends.

“We would always urge anyone with concerns over the terms of a loved one’s will to seek specialist legal advice to consider their options in relation to such an issue.

“However, we would also suggest that they take such a step with the specific aim of resolving any such problems as amicably and quickly as possible. As this case shows, a long battle can only prove to be damaging for everyone involved.  The courts encourage those involved in will disputes to enter into mediation to try and resolve the claims.  Irwin Mitchell has significant mediation experience”

Adam added: “Another important issue to consider is always ensuring your will is up-to-date and properly reflects your wishes when you can. It is also useful to sit down with loved ones after writing a will to discuss the decisions you have made and how they have been reached.

“Such a move can prove massively useful in ensuring that people fully understand the contents of a will and – hopefully – it should reduce the likelihood of someone facing a court battle like this one.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise related to Will, Trust & Estate Disputes