Contesting a Will

my mother passed away recently leaving an Estate worth in excess of 1 million -mainly house, land and cash accounts. When the Will was read i was shocked to find she had left her Estate to my older sister and brother in total and although I was mentioned in the will I was left nothing. I have always been close to my mother, though do not live in close proximity as does my brother and sister. My mother spent the last few years in a private nursing home suffering from dementia. I have had huge problems with my sister who disapproved of my choice of wife ( we've now been married 25 years so that proves her wrong)and i am 100% sure she has at some point influenced my mothers decision to exclude me from the Will, which was written after i married and after my sister had told lies to my mother about my future wife. My question is: is it worth me contesting the Will? I do not want to contest it if it is going to cost me more in fees than the Estate would be worth, but surely as a child of the deceased I should have a share in what was my family home and business -or is it a case of hard luck , she did'nt leave you anything?
13:21 Sat 03rd Sep 2011
 
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Barmaid
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Firstly, if I can correct a couple of fundamental misunderstandings.

"As long as she was NOT suffering from dementia when she made the will you do not stand a chance." - incorrect. The absence of dementia does not lead to the conclusion that the deceased had testamentary capacity. The full test is set out in Banks v Goodfellow and it is not quite as simple as...
20:41 Sat 03rd Sep 2011 Go To Best Answer

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One question which may or may not be relevant: Are you in Scotland or in England/Wales?
Question Author
hi -I'm in England and all assets are in England
As long as she was NOT suffering from dementia when she made the will you do not stand a chance.
On the face of it i doubt a claim would succees but what seems a correct common-sense answer sometimes turns out to be wrong from a legal point of view.Barmaid is the best one to answer.
Unless you were financially dependent on your mother at the time of her death, you have very little chance in successfully contesting the will.

Your mother is free to distribute her assets as she sees fit. She could have left the lot to the cats home.
It seems very unfair doesn't it - I find it so difficult to visualise as I come from a loving family where things are split equally all the time, my Mum makes sure me and my brother are treated the same, which I think is wonderful. Have you spoken to your sister about it in a nice way not confrontational - doesn't she feel a scrap of guilt about it? I certainly would feel guilty - but it depends on her attitude, if you have had huge fall outs with her over the years, then she probably won't care at all. I know someone this happened to and the brother was left it all as the sister and father didn't get on - so he took the lot from the will, paid it in to his account then shared it out afterwards. You can but hope gb1959! In the meantime try not to let it spoil precious memories of your Mum as you say you were so close.
Question Author
thanks ann for your post. No - pigs would fly before my sister would relinquish anything -she has been left the house and 30 acres currently valued at 750k and my brother the rest which includes 200 acres of farmland and two holiday cottages, valued about the same. I was forced into selling my 1/4 share in some seperate land to help pay for mothers 25k a year nursing home fees - i offered to buy the land outright but sister would not sign paperwork and sold it to a stranger - like they say - nowt as strange as family. I am upset because I worked for 15 years on the farm before i got married for very little other than the promise of a share in 'the Will'. I suppose my sister will have to answer to someone eventually - despite all the wealth she has she's a miserable b*tch never satisfied lol!
You make a statement about your sister telling lies to your mother about your future wife. Can you prove this? What action did you take at the time about these 'lies'?
If you can prove that you worked for a period for almost nothing except a hope of an inheritance, you may have a chance. But you'd have to have strong witnesses to that effect, or a signed letter or contract.
If you are in the UK, go to the Citizens Advice Bureau
Question Author
I took no action -as far as I was concerned it was tittle tattle though my future wife had grounds for sueing my sister for defamation -we sought legal advice but decided to leave it as we did not want to waste money on solicitors. According to my sister, who fed this to both my parents,my wife was marrying me for my money and had two children by a previous marriage. Actually my future wife was a widow with two small children and a substantial amount of money from a life insurance policy, but did not feel the need to justify herself to my sister. it was quite evident from what other members of the extended family were saying that my sister was painting a very black picture of what would happen if i was left any money. My father gave me an ultimatum - get rid of that woman or i will write you out of my will - i know it sounds very mills and boone but its the truth! I just basically told him to do what he felt right and married and with the help of my future wifes money we bought our own business and became totally independant of family. My father died and left a will that gave everything to my mother - it was at this point I think my mother wrote her Will reflecting what she was told by my sister.
I have heard that you can constest that Will but think that there has to be a case of insanity proved by a doctor?

Have any people here been able to contest a will satisfactorily, I wonder?
Its a very sad story - but as they say money doesn't always bring happiness - lets hope she ends up very miserable indeed!
If it's any consolation my mother rang me shortly before she died (she was only 61 and died quite soon after she was diagnosed) to tell me she was writing me out of her will. (She didn't have an estate as such, but just wanted to make sure I knew what she was doing - she did this because she disliked my husband and, I believe, because she knew this would hurt me.)
It seems to me that, unless you can prove these things and are prepared to risk lots of money, you are on a hiding to nothing here.
I would suggest you put this behind you and get on with your life.
Firstly, if I can correct a couple of fundamental misunderstandings.

"As long as she was NOT suffering from dementia when she made the will you do not stand a chance." - incorrect. The absence of dementia does not lead to the conclusion that the deceased had testamentary capacity. The full test is set out in Banks v Goodfellow and it is not quite as simple as "did she have dementia or not". There are also other ways of challenging a will.

"Unless you were financially dependent on your mother at the time of her death, you have very little chance in successfully contesting the will" - incorrect. A child of the deceased does not have to establish dependency to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Granted, lack of dependence makes a claim harder, but that is not a requirement under the act.

"If you can prove that you worked for a period for almost nothing except a hope of an inheritance, you may have a chance. But you'd have to have strong witnesses to that effect, or a signed letter or contract. " Getting closer! What the poster is alluding to here is the doctrine of proprietary estoppel. For a recent example, see Thorner v Major. Essentially, if A is promised something by B and on reliance on that promise acts to their detriment, B is prevented from acting on their strict legal rights and will hold the promised property on trust for A. A signed contract is specifically NOT required.

GB1959 - I urge you to take legal advice from a solicitor who is a member of STEP or ACTAPS or a barrister who is a member of the Chancery Bar Association who has direct access. I am not saying you DO have a claim, I am saying it is worth you getting proper legal advice to know definitively since there is an awful lot of incorrect advice on this thread. You have said enough to make me think this needs further investigation.
Question Author
Thankyou so much for that Barmaid. i am torn between fighting for what I think should be right, and shrugging shoulders and letting them get on with it - then again I did leave college early to help my father on the farm due to his ill health - my older brother who will inherit the farm kept on at college and only returned back to farm when I married. then big thing sopping me is reading about a local case of a farmers daughter contesting the fact her mother left all her estate to the RSPCA -an estate worth around 2million i think - she contested the will , lost, then won on appeal -but it cost her 100's of 1000's of pounds in legal fees. i will make enquires though and thankyou for the usefull information
The case you are talking about is Gill v RSPCA. It may have cost a huge amount in fees, but most of it I suspect was paid out of the estate. It would be worth you taking some proper legal advice (and shelling out a few hundred quid) to find out what your options are. Good luck.
I was in a similar situation earlier this year when my Dad passed away. He always, always, everytime I visited kept going on to me that when he passed away, Myself and his grandaughter will be ok financially. He would tell everyone this too, constantly.

Turned out he left everything to his wife, my step-mother. A new Will appeared and superceded the rest of them. She has now disowned me because I asked for a copy of his Will from Probate. I had previously asked her three times for a copy before and never received it.

At the end of the day gb1959 I do not have the money or energy to contest the Will. I am more sad that I have nothing of his that I can keep in my home to remind me of him. I have only memories.

Move on and live your life.

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