Divorced man granted leave to challenge former mother-in-law’s will

A man who divorced his wife ten years ago has been granted leave to challenge his deceased former mother-in-law’s will.

Colin and Hilary Randall divorced in 2006. Their divorce settlement specified that the first £100,000 his wife inherited from her mother would be hers alone, with anything more split equally between them with both agreeing the settlement could not bind Mrs Randall’s mother to any testamentary decision.

However when Mrs Randall’s mother died, it emerged that exactly £100,000 had been left to Mrs Randall with £150,000 to her children. Mr Randall alleges that the will of Mrs Sylvia Corrall, who died on 11th March 2013 was not duly executed in accordance with the provisions of s9 of the Wills Act 1837, and that “it does not appear that the deceased intended by her signature to give effect to the alleged will”.

Mrs Sylvia Corrall’s contested will states:

“2. I GIVE the following legacies free of tax:

a. The sum of One Hundred Thousand Pounds (£100,000) to my said daughter HILARY ANN JOCELYN RANDALL absolutely provided she survives me.

b. …

c. …

d. The sum of One hundred Pounds (£100) to my grandson MARTIN ALAN RANDALL C/O Miss Fiona Randall …

3. I GIVE all the residue of my estate both real and personal whatsoever and wheresoever (out of which shall be paid my funeral and testamentary expenses and my debts) and any property over which I have at my death any power of appointment to my three remaining grandchildren namely FIONA LOUISE RANDALL …. PATRICK COLIN RANDALL …. and HARRIETT CAROLINE RANDALL … absolutely in equal shares.”

Mrs Randall contested that this particular will was merely an updated version of a 2009 will, however no copy of this could be found.

In 2014, the High Court had denied Mr Randall the legal standing to bring a contentious probate claim. However that decision was reversed at the Court of Appeal in March.

Lord Justice McCombe stated: “it appears to me to be highly unjust that if, in circumstances similar to the present, a will had been forged in an attempt to defeat an order made in divorce proceedings, the party affected could not challenge the validity of the will in probate proceedings. The facts of the present case seem to me to be in principle no different.”

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