Mother And Son In Bitter Battle Over £10m Estate
A mother and her estranged son are at war over a family fortune. Pamela and Stephen Moore, are locked in a contentious courtroom battle over the 65-acre Grade II listed Manor Farmhouse and estate worth £10 million.
The court heard that Pamela Moore, who is an ex-schoolmistress, valued academic achievement. On the other hand, her son Stephen was passionate about rally car driving and farming. The two have not gotten along since Stephen was a youngster.
Relations between the two further deteriorated when Stephen acquired a half share of the farm estate from his uncle in recognition of his commitment to the land, and used money from the partnership to buy himself a sports car.
Mrs Moore saw this as “overly frivolous”, while his frugal father warned Stephen that the farm “was not a piggy bank”. Mrs Moore also claimed that her son became “very full of himself with his new found role and wealth” and “very aggressive and bullying” towards the rest of the family.
In 2012, Stephen learned he had been written out of his parent’s mirror wills. And that, while he owned half the farm, his father had disinherited him of the other half. Instead, his father decided to leave his share of the estate to his wife if he died before her. This £5 million share of the estate would then go to Stephen’s sister Julie and her husband.
In 2016, Stephen successfully challenged this decision, claiming that his father had advanced dementia. He also said that he had been repeatedly promised that the entire estate “would be all his one day”.
In the High Court case, Judge Simon Monty said that Stephen had toiled on the farm since childhood, and was entitled to the whole farm.
However, Mrs Moore has now taken the battle to the Court of Appeal stating that the decision was unfair on her daughter Julie. Acting as her incapacitated husband’s legal representative, Mrs Moore has said that the “upsetting family dispute’ has left them “bankrupt in all but name”.
Challenging the 2016 decision, Mrs Moore’s barrister said: “Pamela is the wife in a successful marriage of 50 years with rights to a half share of anything her husband had, should it come to it.” He also claims that her husband had full mental capacity when he changed his Will, and had intended “to protect Pamela” if he died first.
But, according to Stephen’s barrister, he is the “only family member of his generation who was ‘passionate about farming”. It was also argued that since his father fell ill, Stephen effectively runs the farm alone; often toiling up to 100 hours a week. She argued that Stephen had “based his whole life on promises made to him by his father and awareness of the over-arching plan to keep the farm in the family.”
While Mrs Moore has the right to live in the family home until her death and receives an income from her son, Pamela has no assets left, and the 2016 ruling has forced the pair to live together.
A judgment is expected at a later date.
As an expert Will writer, what are your thoughts on this? Was the original decision right in this case?