I noticed this interesting Inheritance Dispute case which was heard last week in the High Court. Angela Salmon failed in her claim that her sister Jacqueline had forged their Mother’s Will, which had left Angela just £1 from her mother's £300,000 estate. If Angela had been successful, the Will would have been declared invalid, and she would have been entitled to a seventh share of her mother’s estate under the rules of intestacy.
Angela’s mother had said in the Will that Angela had borrowed money which was never repaid, and that she had had her fair share of her assets to last her a life time. The bulk of the estate was therefore left to her sister. Angela claimed that the Will, made a year before their mother died, was a forgery by Jacqueline and that her mother did not know or approve of its contents.
Deputy Judge Edward Bartley Jones QC said that it was 'most unfortunate' that Angela Salmon had made the allegations against her sister, Jacqueline, who had looked after her mother for the last 17 years of her life. The judge was also critical that Angela had had the benefit of Legal Aid to make the forgery allegation. He said he found Jacqueline a 'careful and reliable' witness but found that Angela was 'unreliable and unconvincing'. Angela and her mother had been estranged for many years and she had been lent money that was not repaid, despite her denials, said the judge.
As a solicitor specialising in this area of law, I think that this case highlights the difficulty and seriousness of making allegations of fraud in any Court case. Such allegations should only be made if there is significant evidence to support it, and as has been seen in this case, the Courts are very critical of unfounded allegations being made. I also think that this case highlights the need to have the advice of a solicitor who specialises in Inheritance Disputes, as we do, here at Stephensons.
If you think that you may have an inheritance dispute claim, and wish us to investigate it and advise you, then contact our specialist team on 01942 777777. 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 consumer solicitor, Heather Korwin-Szymanowska