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Sibling battle over £100 million property mogul’s Will

31st March 2022 by Kate Mansfield

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The Will of a wealthy property investor has been overturned by the High Court on the basis that he did not know and approve of the contents.

Property tycoon Kevin Reeves, raised as an orphan in a convent, built up an empire valued at £100 million pounds. In 2012, he made a Will leaving his fortune to his descendants, with his three children sharing 80% and his two grandchildren sharing the remaining 20%.

However, following his death, one of his sons, Bill Reeves, discovered that a subsequent Will had been signed by his father in 2014, leaving only £200,000 of personal possessions to Bill, with the deceased’s daughter Louise Reeves inheriting the bulk of his estate.

Claim to overturn the Will

Bill brought legal action, claiming that Louise had persuaded his father to sign the newer Will and that he had not read it, nor understood what its contents were. He said that his relationship with his father was good and had not changed. There was no reason for him to be cut out of inheriting.

Kevin’s background, including the fact that he left school at the age of 12, meant that he could neither read nor write.

The court ruling

The judge found that Louise Reeves was a risk taker who could be manipulative, saying, “She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it… I believe that she was prepared to take the risk, because the prize was so great.”

He also stated that there was no evidence that Kevin Reeves had read the 2014 Will by himself, saying, “The Claimant would have known that the deceased would not have been able to read the 2014 Will by himself… I think she was relying on his illiteracy… to make it very unlikely that he would try to read the draft 2014 Will himself.”

The fact that Louise Reeves could not explain why her father would so drastically change his intentions also made the court suspicious.

The judge ruled that the 2014 Will was not valid, meaning that the 2012 Will would take effect as the deceased’s most recent valid Will.

Louise Reeves was also required to pay her own costs, plus 70% of Bill Reeves’ costs, likely to be a combined total of around £2 million.

The importance of a valid Will

It is crucial for those left behind that a valid Will is in place. This will greatly reduce the risk of a dispute arising and means you will have the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones will be supported in the future.

An expert Will writing solicitor will be able to ensure that your Will is not only valid, but that it leaves your estate in the best way possible, securing your assets for the next generation.

If you would like any further information or wish to discuss making or amending an existing Will please contact Kate Mansfield or a member of our team on 01202 377800.

Kate Mansfield

Partner — Private Client

Direct dial: 01202 377853

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  • “We have had the pleasure of Kate’s sensitive and unwavering professional support for a number of years. She has always been able to combine her deep expertise, with practical context and a tone of voice that gently escorts you through, often difficult decisions. We could not recommend Kate highly enough, both professionally and personally.”

    Simon Bennett

  • “Kate was extremely knowledgeable, straightforward to deal with as well as sympathetic during what was a difficult time. I felt in good hands!”

    Elisabeth Bonelli

  • “We were treated with respect and felt our wishes were taken in consideration. The patience shown in helping us understand the implications of decisions was outstanding.”

    Francesca Remix

  • “Very efficient and welcoming. Understood my access requirements and my unique concerns thoroughly.”

    Hannah Fielding (wheelchair user)

  • “Mrs Mansfield has been exemplary in every respect. She is an excellent listener and has the ability to explain complex issues patiently and emphatically. We are fortunate in having her as our legal adviser.”

    Neville Osrin

  • “Professional, always available for a phone enquiry. Always informed me as thing's progressed. Excellent company with very pleasant and helpful front of house. My sincere thanks.”

    Susan Dawn Godfrey

  • “Kate took the trouble to understand the particularities affecting my Will and found sensible ways of dealing with them.”

    Peter Andrews

Kate is head of our Private Client Team and has 25 years’ experience in private client work, specialising in wills, tax planning and estate administration. Kate has worked in this area since she qualified and has assisted thousands of families and individuals.

Kate qualified as a solicitor in 1995 after obtaining a 2.1 in Law from the University of Kent. She completed her training contract with Laceys and became a partner in 2002.

Kate is a full member of the Society of Estate and Trust Practitioners (STEP) and sat on the STEP committee for 6 years. She has also taught on the Legal Executives course at Bournemouth & Poole College.

Kate enjoys the personal side of the work and the satisfaction of assisting the bereaved and families with complex affairs, whether it be complex financial aspects or those where a diplomatic hand is required. She prides herself on being able to explain the legal position in plain English.

Out of the office she enjoys keeping fit. She enjoys going to the gym and getting out into the Dorset countryside on her road bike. Cooking, particularly baking, is also a passion.

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