Siblings spend inheritance fighting over it

An estate worth approximately £120,000 has all been spent by the three siblings it was left too in legal fees as they fight each other over it.

Daphne Burgess died in May 2009 aged 80, leaving a Will that she had amended in the presence of one of her daughter Julia and a solicitor two years before she died. The amended Will excluded her son Peter on the basis that she planned to make improvements to the bungalow he bought for her, and that he would then benefit from the increased value of the property. Her previous Will had divided her assets up equally between her three children.

In a County Court hearing in January the last Will was struck in favour of the previous one that divided the estate equally, with the judge concluding that Mrs Burgess "loved all her children very much and in equal measure". Peter and his sister Libby had gave evidence that their mother was suffering memory loss and confusion, and challenged her capacity to change her Will in 2007. A psychiatry professor also concluded that Mrs Burgess was suffering from a 'moderate' mind disorder at the time of changing her Will. Her daughter Julia was ordered to pay £18,000 back into her mother's estate.

Appealing the decision, Julia Hawes' solicitors argued that there was a lack of evidence to justify the judge's conclusion that her mother did not have the proper mental capacity to amend her Will, and that the experienced solicitor present declared her 'compos mentis'. 

Lord Justice Mummery reserved his judgment, saying the case raised an important issue for the rights of older people to have their wishes respected, saying that when a Will is made that person "ought to have their wishes respected unless it is very clear that it wasn't what they wanted."

If you have not made a Will or need to update a current one, contact one of the will writing solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by calling 0800 840 9293.