Lord of the Wings – A claim over inheritance
A self-proclaimed Lord has recently succeeded in a claim made against him by his step-siblings over £300,000 of inheritance, telling the court that his mother left him her entire estate so that he could look after her parrot.
In 2017, Reginald and Maureen McLean made Wills which split their estate equally between their son, Brett, and Reginald’s three children from his first marriage. After Reginald passed away in 2019, Maureen changed her Will to leave everything in her estate to Brett, a self-proclaimed Lord.
In a claim brought by the other three siblings, after Maureen had passed away, they argued that they were entitled to a quarter of the estate each. The main bulk of the estate was the house, thought to be worth around £300,000-£400,000.
Brett argued that his mother had left him the house so that he could “continue to provide care for her green Amazonian orange-winged parrot”.
In a judgment, handed down by Graeme Robertson, in the Central London County Court, Brett succeeded in his defence. The Judge stipulated that whilst Maureen “may have been morally bound” not to remove her stepchildren from the Will, there was no legal obligation to keep them in her Will.
So, what does this judgment mean?
This judgment tells us that there is no legal obligation to include particular people in a Will, and often the court will be bound by the wording in the deceased’s Will rather than amending the Will post death.
It is worth noting that is it possible for children from a previous relationship to have assets ring-fenced for them, if the Will is drafted properly. This avoids the scenario discussed above, where surviving step-children are cut out of the Will.
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Written by Daniel Wilson, with assistance from Sarah Simon.