In a recent case that has caught the interest of the media, the children of the late William Tibbles found themselves in a dispute over a DIY Will prepared shortly before death.
William Tibbles prepared his Will in 2017 leaving his entire £300,000 estate to his daughter Terri Tibbles. William made it clear in an accompanying letter of wishes that he had chosen not to leave any provision for his other 3 daughters as they were a ‘disappointment’ him. The letter also confirmed that William had left no provision for his son, Paul as he was financially secure.
Three days after William’s death in 2018, a later Will was handed to his solicitor by Paul, which left the estate equally between William’s other three daughters and Paul, entirely disinheriting Terri. The 2018 Will was handwritten and prepared on a scrap of paper, which appeared to have been torn from a notebook. The Will was allegedly executed a day before William was admitted to hospital, where he sadly passed away 5 days later.
Terri subsequently issued a High Court claim to dispute the validity of the 2018 Will and was successful in her challenge. Terri argued that the new Will was entirely inconsistent with the Will and letter of wishes prepared in 2017, she did not believe that it was her Dad’s signature on the document produced. Terri claimed that it would be totally uncharacteristic for her father, who had a long history of using a solicitor for his legal dealings, to prepare a DIY Will.
The Court found that there was no evidence as to who wrote the Will, whether it was signed at Mr Tibbles’ dictation, who was present when it occurred or what his state of mind was at the time. Judge Matthew Marsh ruled that there was ‘no real explanation for his change of mind and no evidence about him signing it.’ The Court found that the 2018 Will was invalid and that the 2017 Will was to be upheld, meaning that Terri inherited the estate in its entirety.
Whilst this case had a positive conclusion for the Claimant, it is always advisable that you prepare a Will with a Solicitor in order to avoid a challenge of this nature. The outcome of this case may have been very different had William not used a Solicitor originally to prepare his Will.
Should you require any advice on a Contentious Probate matter or have concerns over a handmade Will of a loved one which unreasonably omits you, please contact Victoria Townsend in our Contentious Trusts and Probate team on 01332 225429 or at firstname.lastname@example.org