Gareth Ledsham, Senior Associate in the Trusts and Estate Disputes team has successfully defended the validity of the 'home made' will of François Devillebichot following a four day trial at the High Court in June of this year.
The will, which was signed in hospital two weeks before Mr Devillebichot died, left £100,000 to his daughter Chloe Brennan, and the residue of this English estate to Gareth's clients, the deceased's four siblings. He also left a French property to one of his sisters, in recognition of the care she had provided to him throughout his illness.
Mrs Brennan challenged the will on grounds that it was not properly executed, that her father lacked testamentary capacity, that he did not know the contents of the will and was unduly influenced. Mrs Brennan alleged that the siblings and two of their cousins (who witnessed the will) were all party to a conspiracy to fraudulently uphold an invalid will.
If Mrs Brennan were successful, she would inherit the whole estate under the rules of intestacy.
Handing down judgment on 26 September upholding the disputed will, Judge Mark Herbert QC rejected the allegation and decided that, in his judgment, the deceased had properly executed his will, had the necessary testamentary capacity to do so and was not unduly influenced. The judge also ruled that the deceased knew and approved the contents of his will.
The case has been reported in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.
Further information about the importance of making a will can be found here.