A £2 million inheritance dispute has been settled after a Will that was lost for more than a decade was found.
The case involved Dean and Dale Brunt, and their sister Venetia, who owned a farm in Hertfordshire, which was worth £6 million, after inheriting the estate from their grandfather.
After Dean died in 2007, his £2 million share of the estate was left to his mother, Marlene, under the intestacy rules, as it was believed that he did not have a Will. Following this, Marlene gave her share of the farm to Dale, meaning that he then owned two-thirds of both the land and the business.
The dispute arose when Venetia accused Dale of attempting to bully her out of the business, and of trying to force their uncle Winston Wrangle out of his home on the farm.
Venetia was under the belief that the estate had been passed directly from Dean to Dale, and was not aware of Marlene’s involvement until a decade later, at which point, Dean’s former legal adviser found what he believed was Dean’s final Will.
However, in February this year, a second Will with the same terms was found in a pile of documents held by Dean’s legal adviser. In this Will, Dean’s £2 million share of the farm would go to both Venetia and Dale.
The judge ruled in favour of the Wills, stating that there was a ‘substantial amount of evidence’, that Dean had spoken in the 1990s about his Will, telling friends of the terms and that he had done as his grandfather would have wanted.
Following the judgment, Dean’s estate will be divided as per the terms of the Wills which were created in 1999, which will split the farm equally between Dale and Venetia. Mr Wrangle will be left one-third of the house he currently lives in on the farm land, and Marlene has been removed as an executor.
Tim Steele, a Partner with Palmers who specialises in Wills, probate and estate matters, said: “This latest case serves to illustrate the importance of having a Will professionally drafted, witnessed and securely stored.
“A professionally drafted document will also 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.
“We have experience of drafting Wills and also handling disputes involving estates here at Palmers. For more information, please contact us.”