Example case study: sibling dispute over late mother’s invalid Will

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The following case study is based on a matter that our inheritance dispute solicitors typically take on.

Our inheritance dispute solicitors acted for an individual, Lisa, when a dispute arose with her sister, Katie, regarding a questioned Will following the death of their mother, Betty.


When Betty died in 2018, Katie suddenly revealed that their mother had left a Will. It had been understood within the family that Betty had always refused to make a Will, understanding that her estate was to go to her children equally.

The reveal of the Will, in which Betty intended to leave the whole of her estate to Katie and her daughter, came as a considerable shock to our client, not least as Betty had mental capacity issues at the time it had been signed. Katie quickly moved into her mother’s home, changing the locks, and disposing of her mother’s possessions.

Our inheritance dispute solicitors undertook extensive investigations and it became clear that the Will had not been appropriately witnessed as Katie had Betty sign the Will without the witnesses being present. The witnesses confirmed they had never met with Betty.

Despite its initial appearance as a valid Will, as a result of the enquiries conducted on behalf of Lisa, the Will was found to be invalid. The Will had not been properly executed (signed) in accordance with strict requirements of section 9 of the Wills Act 1873.

Interviews with the claimed witnesses to the Will revealed that they had acted entirely innocently in the matter, confirming that the challenged Will had been signed by them with only Katie present. That signing had actually happened in a shop carpark at night.

Dispute over the validity of the Will

Following this revelation, a bitter dispute arose between Katie and Lisa, as Katie had instigated, and had been heavily involved in, the instructions for the preparation of the Will. Katie had also taken charge of the arrangements for the execution of the Will.

In addition to occupying Betty’s home and disposing of or destroying many of her personal possessions, it was further discovered that Katie had managed (to her own benefit) significant lifetime dispositions (assets) belonging to Betty. These were also challenged.

Our solicitors took steps to obtain a court order that the questioned Will was not valid, secure the estate, and to administer it in accordance with the intestacy rules, Betty had desired. The lifetime dispositions were also recovered on the basis that they had been obtained by means of undue influence on Katie’s part.

Contact our dispute resolution solicitors

If you or someone you know has concerns over the validity of a loved one’s Will, our inheritance dispute solicitors may be able to help.

Contact our team of specialist lawyers today on 0117 325 2929 or fill in our online enquiry form.


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