Disappointed Beneficiaries

7th March 2024

Richard Wilson, Associate, Contentious Probate

The Daily Mail has reported on the case of the estate of a former soldier, Frederick Ward, who left the bulk of his estate £500,000 to his two surviving children, Terry and Susan, but only  £50 each to the children of his dead son, Fred Jr. A bitter family fall out ensued and court proceedings were brought.

It is not uncommon for family members to expect to be treated equally and, where one child dies, for their share to be passed to their children. Despite the grandchildren’s expectations, the Court found that Mr Ward’s decision to benefit Terry and Susan ‘can hardly be said to be provision which no reasonable testator could make’ and the will was, therefore, valid.

The case confirms that there is no automatic entitlement to inheritance and, assuming a will appears to be rational on its face, the Court will rarely look beyond the deceased’s wishes.

Although the grandchildren were unsuccessful in this instance, there are circumstances where such a claim may have succeeded – for example, if they were able to prove that the will maker was unduly influenced or lacked capacity at the time the will was executed. It is, therefore, important to have an early legal assessment of your position.

Contact our probate dispute specialists on 0161 832 3434.

Kuits FSQS registered
Kuits good employment supporter