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Charities Are The Most Feared Legal Opponent in Will Disputes

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

As has been reported here, Marie Curie, Action on Hearing Loss, the RNIB and the Royal Institute of Cancer Research have won their case to retain a £1.8m legacy.

The dispute revolved around the estate of Dorothy Whelen, who had made a will in 1982 giving all her assets to the four charities.

The four charities won their case against a Mr Alan Turner, the son of Mrs Whelen’s friend Hazel Turner, who claimed that a will created in 1999 and giving the bulk of the estate to his mother was Mrs Whelen’s last will.

The legal battle over which of the wills should be taken to probate began when Mrs Whelen died in 2012. The case was complicated by the fact that Mrs Turner, who is now 95-years-old and suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease, was too ill to attend the court proceedings.

This is all interesting and I cannot comment on the specifics of this case but what In would say is that charities are frequently involved in probate litigation and often take a hard line against other beneficiaries or potential ones if named in a will.

When I advise a client on doing a will, I am very circumspect in advising them to make a legacy to a charity particularly if there are other family members involved. It can create not insignificant stress on the probate irrespective of whether litigation results.