Mother-in-law’s Will to be contested a decade after couple split

News Article

A divorcee, who split from his wife a decade ago, has been granted leave to challenge his deceased former mother-in-law’s Will.

In the couple’s original divorce settlement the terms specified that the first £100,000 the wife inherited from her mother, ‘Mrs C’, would be hers alone and would not be split but that any balance would be split between the couple.

However when Mrs C died, the precise amount of £100,000 was left to her daughter, with the remaining £150,000 left to the wife’s children.

It is now alleged that the Will of Mrs C, who died in March 2013, was not duly executed in accordance with the provisions of the Wills Act 1837, and that “it does not appear that the deceased intended by her signature to give effect to the alleged Will”.

In 2014, the High Court initially denied the son-in-law leave to challenge the Will. However that decision has now been reversed at the Court of Appeal.

Lord Justice McCombe stated: “it appears to me to be highly unjust that if, in circumstances similar to the present, 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. The facts of the present case seem to me to be in principle no different.”

Lee McClellan, a Partner with Palmers and a specialist in contested Wills said: “If you are a potential claimant and you feel that a Will does not properly reflect the intended wishes of a loved one, it is important to seek immediate legal advice.

“If you know that your Will is likely to be challenged after death, employing a specialist firm of solicitors, rather than attempting a do-it-yourself Will, will help to reduce the chances of a successful challenge by ensuring that there is professional evidence available regarding issues such as mental capacity, knowledge and approval and due execution.”

For more information about Palmers Wills, Probate and Estate Administration services including advice on contested Wills, please contact us.