A woman has won a dispute with her siblings over the validity of their mother’s lost will, which had been mislaid shortly after being made.
Following the mother’s death, the siblings claimed there was no will and so were granted letters of administration enabling them to dispose of her estate and share the proceeds.
When a person dies intestate, that is, without having made a will, their estate is divided in a way laid down by law. In this case it would involve each of the siblings getting a share of the assets, which in this case amounted to £920,000. However, the siblings proceeded to divide the estate among themselves without giving their sister her rightful share.
The sister then discovered that there was a will, and that it made her the sole executor and main beneficiary of the mother’s estate. She took legal action to have the letters of administration revoked and for the will to be declared valid.
The High Court found in her favour. It held that there was nothing in the evidence to suggest fraud or forgery, or that the mother lacked capacity when she made the will.
There had been a number of troubling factors about the case: the siblings had sent a letter to the sister in 2012, which showed that they had been aware of a strong likelihood that their mother had made a will. There was also evidence that one of the siblings had seen a copy of the lost will at the time of the funeral.
In spite of this, they had made no payment of any kind to the sister in respect of what should have been her share.
The siblings were ordered to transfer to her all the money raised from the estate and to also pay her costs.
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MORRIS v BROWNE & ANOR (2017)
Ch D (Barling J) 16/01/2017