Sibling rivalry has cost every penny of estate inheritance, says Temperley Taylor

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Temperley Taylor solicitors look at the ongoing legal dispute between three siblings over their mother's will.

Three siblings arguing over their late mother's assets are risking spending every penny of their inheritance in dead-lock court battle.

According to the Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/lawreports/8953752/Magistrate-ordered-to-repay-18000-spent-from-frail-mothers-accounts.html), Mrs Burgess, who passed away in 2009, changed her will shortly after moving from her home to a bunglow which was bought for her son and decided to remove him from the will without any access to her £210,000 estate.

In the case of BURGESS V HAWES [2012] WTLR 423, Step Journal (http://www.stepjournal.org/news/news/secondary_news/will_instigated_by_testators.aspx) reported the alleged reason for Peter Burgess’s removal was that she intended to reward him ‘lifetime provisions’ by making improvements to the bungalow, according to legal documents made in 2007. However Peter and his sister Libby have reportedly challenged the will, giving evidence about their mothers deteriorating health, in particular memory loss and confusion.

The legal dispute is being fought on two sides with Julia claiming there is no evidence her mother lacked the mental capacity to change her will and cut her brother out of her estate, while an Oxford psychiatry professor also gave evidence, concluding it was likely Mrs Burgess was suffering from a ‘moderate’ disorder of the mind at the time.

Contesting a will is often a long and difficult process and while there are a range of options available to beneficiaries to modify a will, each can be particularly costly for both sides. In this case the siblings have taken the dispute to the Court of Appeal due to the unique situation of their mother changing the will two years prior to her death.

Temperley Taylor solicitors, who specialise in wills and probate cases, have years of experience in knowing how much mental health can play in will disputes. Speaking on behalf of the company Ian Mann, Partner commented on the story stating:

“Mental health can have a significant part to play in inheritance disputes so it is important that the person making the will has mental capacity to do so.”

“Since Mrs Burgess was not confirmed to be of poor mental health until after her death the situation becomes more complicated and the fact this case has been taken to the Court of Appeal, proves every other option had failed without any resolution from either party and is likely to cost the family their entire estate.”

Temperley Taylor provide legal advice and support for a variety of legal services including wills and probate, Court of Protection and lasting powers of attorney. For more information visit http://www.temperleytaylor.co.uk/wills.php or call 0161 643 2411.

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Ian Mann