Inheritance: Will successfully challenged after entire estate left to son

A woman has successfully challenged a Will after her mother left her entire estate to her son, disinheriting her daughter.

The deceased, Jean Clitheroe, died in September 2017, and had made Wills in both 2010 and 2013, which had attached details letters of reasons stating that she had deliberately omitted her daughter, Susan Bond, from her Will because she was “a shopaholic, and would just fritter it away”.

John Clitheroe, son of Mrs Clitheroe, was appointed as executor and trustee and took the entire estate once bequests of cash and chattels had been given to her grandchildren.

Bond then challenged his application for probate on the ground of testamentary capacity, stating that the Wills created in 2010 and 2013 were invalid because her mother had suffered from a complex grief reaction after the death of one of her other children.

She also stated that her mother had a continuing affective disorder characterised by depression, and had “insane delusions” about Susan. She argued that these delusions were caused by John, and asked the court to rule that her mother had died intestate.

The burden of proof of capacity fell to John Clitheroe, meaning that he had to establish that Jean was not suffering from an affective grief disorder, or if she was, that this was not affecting her decisions over her estate.

The High Court ruled that Jean Clitheroe did not have testamentary capacity at the time of the drafting of the 2010 and 2013 Wills, finding that the Wills could not be admitted to probate, and the residuary estate will now be divided equally between Susan Bond and John Clitheroe.

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Natalie Payne

Natalie Payne

Senior Associate Solicitor, London, Head of Private Client, Wills and Probate Team at Mackrell.Solicitors
Natalie is a Private Client Solicitor at Mackrell.Solicitors and is based in their London office. Natalie has a very hands on approach with her clients and guides them through every step when looking after their personal affairs and/or those of their friends and family.