A decade long inheritance dispute has finally come to an end after a cat knocked over a solicitor’s pile of legal papers for shredding.
Siblings Venetia, Dean and Dale together inherited a £6m farm in Broxbourne following their grandfather’s death. In 2007 Dean died in a railway accident and was thought not to have made a Will. As such, he was deemed to have died intestate and his share of the farm passed to his mother Marlene who then gave the share to son Dale.
Venetia later discovered the existence of two Wills made by Dean in 1999 and decided to fight Dale and Marlene regarding Dean’s share of the farm. The first Will was discovered by Dean’s legal advisor Mr Day who said this was Dean’s final Will. This Will had been signed by Mr Day on behalf of Dean and supported Venetia’s claim to half of the share of Dean’s estate. Following this Will being discovered, Venetia and her Uncle Mr Wrangle brought the case to court where Dale and Marlene argued the Will had been forged by Mr Day following Dean’s death. Marlene and Dale argued that this theory was supported by the fact that Mr Day’s signature was “unsteady”. Mr Day passed away before the issue could be settled.
The second Will which showed crucial evidence of Dean’s intention to give his sister half his wealth, was discovered in February this year following Mr Day’s death and only weeks before the case was due in court. It was discovered after Mr Wrangle’s solicitor’s cat knocked over a pile of papers that were about to be shredded. This Will was identical to the first Will discovered but had a signature that was more “steady-handed”.
Last week at the High Court, Judge Paul Teverson rejected Marlene and Dales claims that the 1999 Will was a forgery stating that there was a “substantial amount of evidence” that Dean had spoken to friends in the late 1990’s regarding having made a Will that ensured his Mother would not inherit his share. Furthermore, Judge Teverson concluded that the “steady-handed” signature was more similar to examples of Mr Day’s signature in the late 1990’s and as such ruled that Venetia will get half of Dean’s share of the farm.
After making a Will, it is vital that you store your Will in a safe place and ensure that your loved ones are aware of where it has been store. At Gepp Solicitors we store all of our clients’ original Wills in secure storage at no additional cost.
If you would like to make a Will or have any concerns about your current Will and would like to make a new one or discuss your options, please contact our Private Client department on 01245 228125 or email PrivateClientEnq@gepp.co.uk and one of the team will be able to assist you.