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Court of Appeal to Hear Bitter Inheritance Dispute

A bitter and long-running inheritance dispute between a mother and son has made its way to the English Court of Appeal, reports the Daily Mail

Pamela and Stephen Moore are battling over inheritance rights to a farm and estate that the family have owned for generations. Together, the farming business and land have an estimated value of around £10 million.

Father Made Inheritance Promise

Stephen, who is now 50, has worked on the farm all his life, and had reportedly been promised by his father, Roger, that it would all belong to him after Roger’s death. Stephen’s sister, Julie, had apparently never been interested in getting involved in the running of the farm.

Stephen already owned half of the farming business, after his uncle, Roger’s brother, transferred his 50% share to Stephen for £500,000 in 2008 – a price well below market value.

Roger developed dementia in 2009 and was no longer able to be actively involved in running the farming business, so Stephen effectively took over from him.

His relationship with his mother had reportedly not been good for many years, and matters took a turn for the worse in 2012 when Stephen discovered that his parents had signed wills in 2007 that left Roger’s 50% share of the farming partnership to his wife, Pamela. She intended to leave this share in her will to her daughter, Julie, as she didn’t feel it was fair that Stephen inherit 100% of the family business while Julie received nothing. 

High Court Challenge

Stephen challenged this in court, and in September 2016 the High Court found in his favour, saying that Stephen should be able to rely on the promises made to him by his father and these promises should supersede the 2007 will. The court therefore awarded him 100% of the farm and estate.

Roger is still alive but no longer has the mental capacity to bring legal proceedings on his own behalf. However Pamela, acting as his legal representative, has appealed against the High Court's decision, saying it is not fair on Stephen’s sister, Julia. Pamela has now been given permission to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal. A date for the full hearing has not yet been set.

Writing Your Will

Challenges to wills are not uncommon, but there are steps you can take to help minimise the risk that your inheritance wishes will be challenged in court.

One of the most important steps is to write a will that is legally valid and keep it up to date. Using the services of a legally qualified professional to help you prepare your will is the best way to ensure it will meet all necessary legal requirements.

It is also always advisable to be open and honest about your inheritance plans with everyone who might reasonably expect to be a beneficiary of your estate. This way, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises when the contents of your will are revealed and reduce the likelihood of hopeful beneficiaries feeling aggrieved.

Contact Us

For expert legal advice on writing, updating or contesting a will then contact our specialist will writing solicitors today.

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