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Uncaring daughter’s attempt to overturn mother’s Will fails in High Court

A mother whose daughter showed ‘very little care for her’ had every right to leave her virtually nothing in her Will, the High Court has ruled.

Maudlin Bascoe left a note with her Will which made it crystal clear how she felt about two of her daughters, Patricia Johnson and sister, Beverley Smith who died in 2017.

‘Rude and unpleasant’

“Both…have shown very little care and concern for me in my later years,” she wrote, “and in particular have both been rude, unpleasant and in some cases physically abusive towards me…

“..They have verbally expressed their lack of care and concern with such statements as ‘you should be placed in a home and die in there’.

“I therefore have no desire that they should benefit from my estate over and above the legacies I have made in this Will.”

Important case

For parents whose children do not treat them as they desire, this important case shows how a properly drawn up Will, as well as evidence of how and why it was made, can stand up to a challenge in court.

In his final judgement, the presiding judge Deputy Master Linwood, found overwhelmingly against the claims of Patricia Johnson who had contested her mother’s Will after her inheritance was cut from £10,000 to £100.

He said Ms Johnson had come nowhere near proving her challenge.

“There is no documentary evidence which supports her and in particular nothing from independent third parties…,” he said.

“Her evidence has been contradictory, self-serving and deliberately misleading.”

Background

Mrs Bascoe originally made a Will in 1992 leaving an inheritance worth £10,000 to each of her children.

But in 2005, she made another Will expressing a desire to leave her daughters nothing ‘beyond the legacies I have made in this Will’. This amounted to £100 for Ms Johnson and £500 for her other daughter, Beverley.

The rest of her inheritance was to be left to her son, Mr Bradford Barnaby, who was joint executor of her estate along with her solicitor.

After Mrs Bascoe died in 2015 at the age of 87, Ms Johnson challenged her Will on the basis her mother had dementia, lacked testamentary capacity at the time it was made and had been forced by her brother to leave him the majority of her estate.

She also alleged that her mother’s signature had been forged.

After considering evidence including medical documents, witness statements and Mrs Bascoe’s own explanatory note, the High Court found overwhelmingly against all Ms Johnson’s claims and found in favour of the 2005 Will.

Important lesson

This case shows the importance of making a Will properly and backing it up with evidence, as Mrs Bascoe did with her note explaining the reasoning behind her actions.

It also upholds the testamentary right of a parent to reflect their negative feelings towards a child in their Will.

For help and advice about contesting a Will, please contact Wards Solicitors’ specialist Probate Disputes team.

If you want to make or update your Will, please contact our Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team.

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