Daughter Successfully Invalidates Mother’s Will
Susan Bond has successfully challenged her mother Jean Clitheroe’s Will, invalidating it and enabling her to inherit part of the £325,000 estate, which was solely left to her brother John.
Prior to her death in 2017, Mrs Clitheroe drafted several versions of her Will. The first in 2010 and the latter in 2013. Whilst drafting these, she also left a letter of wishes, in which she stated that she didn’t want Susan to inherit anything.
In the letter of wishes, Mrs Clitheroe stated that Susan was “a shopaholic and would just fritter it away.”
In addition to that, the note to her lawyers also claimed that “Susan hasn’t done anything for me, as far as she is concerned I could have starved to death.”
Due to the Wills being drafted in a solicitor’s office, an attendance note from the solicitor recorded Mrs Clitheroe calling her daughter a “spendthrift and will just spend her inheritance”.
After her death, John fulfilled his role and executor and trustee and dealt with the final wishes of his mother. Once any debts, legacies, gifts and chattels were distributed, John then kept the residuary as his inheritance.
It was then that his sister opposed his application of probate, arguing a number of points that could invalidate their mother’s Will.
Susan’s first argument, was that their mother didn’t have testamentary capacity due to suffering from a complex grief reaction following the death of another child. She then further claimed that her mother’s ‘insane delusions’ regarding her spending habits were due to John poisoning their mother’s mind.
Judge John Linwood heard the case at the High Court in London. He ruled that that Mrs Clitheroe had died intestate, voiding both versions of the Will. Resulting in the estate being split equally between both siblings.
He ruled that Mrs Clitheroe did indeed suffer from “insane delusional beliefs”. But didn’t believe that her son had poisoned her mind against her daughter.
Nicola Bushby, a Will, Trust and Estate Disputes partner at Irwin Mitchell said:
“After years of irrational and upsetting behaviour from her mother, Susan must feel relieved to have her side of the story recognised with this judgment. However, all of this could’ve been avoided if the Golden Rule had been applied.
“The Golden Rule is to get a capacity assessment, ideally from an experienced psychiatrist, to confirm the position either way. These are useful if the person making the will is elderly, has a poor mental health record, or takes medication that could affect their reasoning, among other examples.
“If there’s a report in place confirming the person’s capacity to make a will, this can be a huge help in making sure the will is admitted to probate and prevent a huge amount of heartache later on.”