This ongoing Court case has caught my eye this week, currently in the High Court in London. The family of two sisters have launched a bitter legal battle over a £390,000 Will which left almost their entire inheritance to their hairdresser, Jill Fraser.
Mrs Fraser, 72, became a close friend of sisters Ethel Willson and Mabel Cook after she had set their hair every week for more than 40 years. The three women had been friends for such a long time, that she did not charge for the hairdressing. Both widowed, the sisters had lived together, and made joint Wills in 1991, leaving their estates to each other, to then be divided amongst close relatives and friends after they both died.
Mrs Cook died in 1995. Mrs Willson’s Will was dramatically altered just two months before she died in 2006. Under the terms of the new Will, Mrs Fraser stands to inherit almost £390,000, while 15 of the sisters' closest friends, godchildren and family members will get nothing.
Mrs Fraser claims that she is entitled to the money because she was the only person to visit Mrs Willson in her dying days in hospital. However, the family have argued that she exploited her friendship with Mrs Willson and didn't bother to tell anyone else that she had been admitted to hospital. They therefore started a Court case to challenge the new Will, on the basis that Mrs Willson was so 'frail and vague' that she was unfit to state her wishes.
The hearing continues so I will be keen to see what the Court decides and will keep you updated.
These kinds of cases are quite common, where the elderly and infirm are alleged to have been taken advantage of, and influenced into changing their Wills. People often also argue that they did not have sufficient mental capacity to make their Wills, which can sometimes mean that the Will is invalid. As a solicitor specialising in Inheritance Disputes, I have represented many people trying to challenge Wills on this basis, and have also assisted beneficiaries in defending claims brought on this basis.
If you have a case similar to this, and require advice, you should contact our specialist Inheritance Dispute team on 01942 777777. You may even be entitled to Legal Aid to help with your legal costs, subject to eligibility.
By consumer solicitor, Heather Korwin-Szymanowska