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Proceed with caution when challenging a will

18th September 2017 by Rob Kelly

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Kenneth Jordan died in August 2012.  He had updated his Will in February 2012 and made his partner, Bernice Elliot, the sole beneficiary of his £2m estate.

His daughter from a previous relationship, Ruth Simmonds, who had stood to benefit under a previous will, entered a caveat to prevent the issue of a grant of probate, so that the estate could not be administered, alleging her father was “confused” and not of sound mind when he signed the will.

She did not make a claim against the estate but she insisted that the will be strictly proved, and that the witnesses to the execution of the will be cross-examined.

The cross-examination raised no doubt or suspicion as to the validity of the will and the court found that Ms Simmonds had no reasonable grounds for challenging the will and there was little to be gained from challenging the witness.  The court ordered the defendant to pay the costs even despite the general rule that there be no order as to costs under Civil Procedure Rules 57.7(5)(b).  It is believed that this is the first modern reported example of such an order.

Comment: The stark lesson for those wishing to contest a will in this way is that their claim must be reasonable; entering a caveat simply to delay or frustrate the issue of a grant of probate risks severe costs sanctions being imposed by the courts.

If you would like further information please contact Rob Kelly.

 

This article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest.  The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice, is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered, and should not be relied on as such.  Legal advice should be sought about your specific circumstances before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed.
Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.

 

Rob Kelly

Senior Associate — Dispute Resolution

Direct dial: 01202 755217

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