Darren and Sean first had suspicions roused regarding their late brother, David’s Will, when they were notified by David’s Deputy, a formal position of office appointed to manage David’s financial and property affairs, that Probate had been granted for a Will which divided David’s estate 5% to his friend, who was in fact his girlfriend, and 95% to his paid carer, Mark Everall.
Frances Woods, Partner at QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright, represented Darren and Sean in this case with the assistance of Paul Burton, Counsel of 3 Stone Buildings, London, and said that they were not concerned about the lack of provision for them but more so that there was no convincing explanation regarding David’s change of heart relating in particular to the lack of provision to various charities. Nor did they believe their brother would reduce the sum due to his girlfriend, with whom he had lived for a number of years before she sadly had to be taken into residential care.
Even in ordinary circumstances, such news may cause one to question the origins of a Will and how it was created. Here, the deceased was a vulnerable adult who had an estate worth a little over £1million as a result of a compensation payout for injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident some years previously. Not only was the estate of significant size but it quickly became apparent that Mr Everall, who stood to gain substantially, had prepared the Will for David using an online service.
Anyone can make a Will without using a solicitor but there are various hurdles to overcome to ensure its validity. In the present case, all previous Wills had been made with the assistance of David’s Deputy and each had followed a similar theme, leaving the estate to family members, his girlfriend and charities, each representing causes close to his heart. There was no apparent reason given for the radical departure from the previous wishes, which had been consistent for over 10 years, and the only evidence in support of the changes was advanced by the main beneficiary under the new Will, Mr Everall.
Additionally, whilst it is not always necessary to check one’s capacity to make a Will, in the present case the Deputy had done so with David each time instructions were provided for a new will, before it was signed. Although the arguments advanced in relation to capacity failed, the Judge was satisfied that David had not properly had his Will explained to him so as to ensure he knew of and approved the content. The Judge provided further reasoning for his decision that the Mr Everall did not make it known that David had made a new Will until after he died, and ensured that those previously assisting and advising David were kept away from him, so as not to cause him to be advised upon the content of his new Will.
The result of the case is that the Will prepared by Mr Everall was declared invalid and the most recent Will prior to that, prepared by the Deputy, was declared the true Will of David. Darren and Sean are pleased with the result as they believe their late brother’s true wishes can now be honoured, with the various charities benefitting from the majority of the estate, in addition to his girlfriend and family members.
The case highlights the importance of making sure your Will is properly prepared and proper and correct advice is provided in relation to all aspects of your estate and those who may be dependent upon you. QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright will provide such advice and assistance both in terms of preparing your Will and any potential challenges that may be made. If you have concerns about the validity of the Will of someone close to you or were dependent upon someone who has recently passed away but did not make provision for you, our experienced Dispute Resolution Team can assist you with that also.
Frances Woods, Partner can be contacted on 01905 721600