Contested Wills and Financial Provision
Horse racing multi-millionaire’s Will invalid?
The latest headline grabbing Will dispute involves the estate of self-made multi-millionaire horse racing trainer Reg Bond. The four children are locked in, what has been described as, a nightmare court fight over his £12m will.
Two of his four children claim his final Will – which handed most of his fortune to the other siblings – is invalid as he, their father, had a ‘longstanding’ determination to share the family fortune equally between all four children.
Mr. Bond had given much of his £55 million fortune away before he died, but his final Will, made in November 2019, handed nearly all of his remaining £12.3 million to two of his sons, leaving their older brother and sister just £325,000 each. It is claimed that the Will was invalid because their father was too ill to understand what he was signing. This claim is disputed by their siblings who claim that their father was in control of his faculties when the Will was written.
There are many ways in which the validity of a Will can be challenged. These include whether the testator (the person who made the Will) had knowledge and approval of what they were doing; whether it was properly signed by the testator; and whether there was a lack of testamentary capacity. The courts understand that sometimes vulnerable people are pressurised or coerced into making a Will on terms which they are not happy with. It may be possible to challenge a Will for lack of due execution or by reason of fraud or forgery.
“This case may be making the news headlines because of the large sums involved and the remarkable backstory but the issues are not uncommon. Disputes do unfortunately arise and they are often between family members.
With an ageing population, changes to family arrangements and greater wealth, families are finding it more and more difficult to balance the needs and expectations of their families when it comes to distributing their assets. The result is an increase in inheritance and Will disputes.”
If you are disappointed about the contents of a Will or concerned about an Executor, we can help. Our contentious probate team regularly handle a wide range of inheritance dispute cases, from claims under the Inheritance Act to executor fraud, undue influence and negligently drafted or lost wills. If you believe you have grounds to contest a Will, we strongly advise you to seek expert legal advice early on.