Bell Yard was instructed by a retained law firm client to publicise a High Court judgment which ruled in favour of its client, whereby a sibling challenged the contents of his parents’ will which had favoured the youngest child. Inheritance disputes are always emotionally charged and therefore require particularly sensitive handling.
On the mother’s passing in 2014 (the father had died in 2009), the family home was left to the youngest son, together with a cash sum equivalent to the nil band rate.
The elder sibling brought a claim challenging his mother’s will in early 2017, alleging that his mother could not read English, as she predominantly read and spoke Hindi, and therefore, she would not have been able to read or understand the English will.
The elder sibling also alleged there was “dominance” of the mother by the father, claiming the will was drafted at his direction, with little or no involvement from his mother.
However, the judge concluded that the elder sibling had failed to establish any suspicious circumstances surrounding the legitimacy of the will and therefore threw out the claim.
Bell Yard publicised the outcome in the Asian press, highlighting the successful defence by its client, as well as shedding light on the judgment’s significance – namely that ‘want of knowledge and approval’ claims are sometimes seen by claimants as an easier route to challenging a will than on other grounds. However, this case demonstrated the opposite.