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£1.5 million property inheritance dispute resolved

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Judgment was delivered last week in the High Court in an inheritance dispute between a father and son over ownership of the family castle.

Philip Howard took his father, sixth baronet Sir John Howard-Lawson, to court to challenge his ownership of the castle, which, he claimed, had not passed to his father under the terms of his grandfather’s Will. The Will contained a provision stating that any heirs would only inherit the castle if they changed their surname to Howard and use the family coat of arms within twelve months of his death, which the son claimed that Sir John had not done.

Sir John had been forced to sell the castle to a third party in 1994 after, he claimed, his son took on a large part of the estate rendering it “financially unviable”. Mr Howard was claiming for the proceeds of that sale.

In the end the Judge ruled in favour of Sir John, stating that the terms of the Will were "complex and tortuous” and that he was “very sad” that the father and son were now estranged as a result of it.

This case shows the problems caused by a badly drafted or overly complex will. A solicitor can ensure that a Will is drafted in the appropriate manner so that the wishes of the testator can be upheld without disputes arising as their meaning.

We have a specialist team of solicitors who can deal with inheritance disputes. Contact us on 01616 966 229. If you are of limited financial means, you may even be entitled to Legal Aid, and we can advise you of this quickly over the phone.

By contesting wills solicitor, Heather Korwin-Szymanowska