Your Will is probably not be as watertight as you think as the final wishes of the deceased are being increasingly challenged in court by disgruntled beneficiaries. One family told Telegraph Money that they have effectively lost their inheritance to a “secret toyboy” lover, who made a successful claim against the Will of their late mother.
Janette and Jeff Epton say their family has effectively lost a £280,000 inheritance after the Will of Janete’s mother was successfully challenged in court.
The Epton family attempted to defend a claim against the Will and estate of Norma Hall by Raymond Brader.
Norma Hall’s daughter, Janette Epton 65, and her granddaughter, Lisa Epton 39, were to be the main beneficiaries of her estate. Mrs Hall’s Will left two thirds of her estate to Janette and the rest to Lisa. The value of the estate stood at about £280,000 which included her £200,000 bungalow.
However, the court found that the Will did not make a reasonable financial provision for Mr Brader, Mrs Hall’s romantic partner, who was some 20 years her junior. While the Eptons would inherit the bungalow and the remaining £80,000 or so in other assets, the court ruled that Mr Brader should be granted a rent-free lifetime tenancy in the bungalow, where he had lived with Mrs Hall.
The court also found that the Epton family should pay 75% of Mr Brader’s legal fees.
The Epton family believed Mr Brader’s story to be “a tissue of lies and fabrications”.
The family stated they had been completely unaware of any romantic relationship between Mr Brader and the late Mrs Hall until later in her life, when she moved to a care home and began to suffer from dementia. It was only then that Mr Brader began to describe their relationship as romantic.
They were unaware he had been living in the property with her. When she went into care, and certainly after she died, he suddenly began to refer to her as his partner and he challenged her Will on that basis.
Janette Epton, who is a similar age to Mr Brader, had been effectively denied her inheritance as she will be unable to live in or sell the property until Mr Brader’s death.
On top of this, most of the remaining inheritance would be eaten up in legal fees, which they estimated to be in the region of £80,000 which includes most of Mr Brader’s.
You run the risk of your Will being challenged if you do not take professional advice and protect against those who could have a claim.
Unless you write off the risk of your Will being contested a claimant could end up taking a significant share of your legacy.
People have become more open to the idea of challenging Wills, even for relatively small sums of money.
In many cases, inheritance squabbles over estates worth only tens of thousands of pounds result in expensive legal fees wiping out any eventual windfall.
It’s best advice to keep your Will up to date and make appropriate planning in line with changes to your circumstances such as divorce, a new partner, moving in with someone or having children.
If you do not keep your Will up to date, the more the years pass and the more likelihood someone will make a claim.
If you want to make your Will “watertight” you should have a Will Clarity Statement from Barnet Wills. If a dispute is raised after you die, this will make your final wishes more defensible in court and, in most cases, may prevent a challenge being made in the first place.
The final wishes of deceased family members are being contested in court more than ever and the trend looks set to continue. Do you really want to see your loved ones go though this?