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Headline-Grabbing Inheritance Disputes Should Prompt Us All To Make A Will

View profile for Richard Howells
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Some unusual legal cases have hit the headlines in recent weeks, highlighting the importance of making a Will, and of seeking professional advice to ensure it is valid.

One colourful case saw a cabbie claim that a regular fare had bequeathed him his whole estate in his Will following his death. The deceased signed a Will to this effect over a pint in the pub. This Will left the deceased’s long-term civil partner, who was also his carer, with nothing, leading to a bitter dispute over the home they had shared.

This Will has now been overturned by a Judge, who ruled that it was invalid, since alcohol had been taken when it was signed. The Judge was also unconvinced that the signee had a fully grasped the ramifications of the Will he put his name to. The taxi driver now faces a potential £50,000 Court bill.

In another highly unusual case, the children of an elderly couple are locked in an inheritance tussle, in which they have asked a Judge to rule which parent died first.

The parents, who each had children from previous marriages, died at home from hypothermia, with some unknowns around who passed away first. Now, the two sides of the family are at odds over who inherits the couple’s home. The family of whoever survived longer is due to inherit the house, leaving the other side of the family with nothing.

This battle is being fought upon an ancient law, which was most notably called into use when a family was wiped out by a bomb during the Battle of Britain. In this current case, the husband’s daughter believes her father probably survived longer, since he was fitter, but the daughter of the wife insists the order of deaths cannot be reasonably determined, so the legal presumption would then be that her step-father, who was older, died first. So, she asserts, she and her brother should inherit the house.

A Judge has yet to settle this legal dispute. While these two cases are out of the ordinary, sadly, disputes over inheritance are very common and they can cause added grief for the families and loved ones left behind. Neglecting to make a proper Will can also leave you open to the risk that your wishes will not be respected, upon your death.

For specialist legal advice, call Richard Howells on: 01267 248981 or email:

Richard is Director and Head of the Lifetime Planning Disputes team who specialise in Litigation involving Wills, Estates, Trusts and Property.

For further advice, please contact our specialist Lifetime Planning solicitors in:

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