Sibling squabbles on the cobbles – Corrie’s Inheritance Dispute

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Sibling squabbles on the cobbles – Corrie’s Inheritance Dispute

This blog was co-authored by Bethannie Byrne and Alison Parry.

If you watch Coronation Street, you will be aware of the recent events that have unfolded following Todd Grimshaw discovering Archie Shuttleworth’s ‘mystery will’.

Archie Shuttleworth (“Archie”) passed away in 2018 leaving a will which left his business, the local funeral directors, to his son George Shuttleworth (“George”).

Whilst filing George’s will, George’s business partner Todd Grimshaw discovered a mystery will made by Archie. Under this will Archie left the business to George and George’s sister Glenda Shuttleworth (“Glenda’) in equal shares. The date on the mystery will was smudged therefore it wasn’t possible to tell which will was the last will.

Glenda found out about the mystery will and wants her 50% share of the business. However, George feels that the mystery will is invalid due to the date on the will being smudged and that the will where he inherits the entire business takes effect. At the moment we are not aware whether the mystery will pre or postdates the will which leaves George the entire business.

The storyline continues as Glenda seeks legal advice and tells George she wants what she is entitled to under the terms of the mystery will.

What happens next?

If this was a real life will dispute, what steps might we expect George or Glenda to take?

In the event solicitors were involved in the creation of the mystery will, it would be appropriate for a Larke v Nugus request to be sent to the solicitors who drafted the will and to ask for a copy of the will file in order to know the date of the ‘mystery will’.

A Larke v Nugus request is a letter which puts a series of questions to the will drafter enquiring as to the circumstances in which the will was prepared. Information regarding the circumstances in which a will has been drafted can be of valuable assistance in determining the merits of pursuing or defending a challenge to the validity of a will. We would expect this would provide information regarding the date when the mystery will was executed.

If no solicitor was involved, then an alternative would be to contact the witnesses to the will and ask them to confirm their recollection of when, and how, the will was executed.

Both Glenda and George might each consider entering a caveat against Archie’s estate. A caveat would have the short term effect of stopping either party from applying for a Grant of Probate to the estate and gaining control of the administration of the estate. By entering a caveat, both of the parties would then have time to investigate the circumstances surrounding the creation of the mystery will and establish whether it might be Archie’s last will and testament.

Challenging the will

If the mystery will is found to predate the will in which George receives the entire business, Glenda could attempt to challenge the validity of that will and ask the court to instead declare the will in which she gets half of the business as being Archie’s last will.

However, if the mystery will postdates the will, Glenda could instead expect that George may seek to challenge the validity of the mystery will and seek that the court declare the will in which he receives the business as being Archie’s last will.

There are several grounds upon which a person might successfully challenge the validity of a will:

  • Lack of due execution – If the testator/testatrix’s will fails to comply with the requirements set out in section 9 of the Wills Act 1837.
  • Lack of testamentary capacity – If it can be proven that when giving instructions for the will the testator/testatrix was unable to understand the nature and effect of making a will, comprehend the extent of their property, was unaware of those who might have claims against their estate and/or was suffering from delusion of the mind.
  • Lack of knowledge and approval – If it can be proven that the testator/testatrix was not aware of or did not approve the contents their will.
  • Undue Influence – If it can be proven that the testator/testatrix was subject to undue influence when making their will.
  • Poisoning of the mind – If it can be proven that someone knowingly made false statements about another potential beneficiary to the testator/testatrix in order to reduce that person’s inheritance. This is more commonly known as Fraudulent Calumny.
  • Fraud or Forgery – If it can be proven that the will was forged by someone other than the testator/testatrix.

In a will validity dispute the response to a Larke v Nugus request, information gathered from the witnesses to the will and review of medical records will all be key to understanding whether any claim might be successful and should be pursued to court.

Any one of, or combination of, the above grounds to challenge Archie’s will might play out over the coming weeks!

Talk to us

If you find yourself in a similar situation relating to a will dispute, need advice about challenging a will or have any other issue relating to a dispute about inheritance, get in touch with JMW today. You can contact us by calling 0345 872 6666 or by completing our online enquiry form.

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