Daughters go to court over inheritance left to much younger boyfriend
Elizabeth Walker died of a brain tumour in 2010 at the age of 53 - leaving half her estate to her two daughters, and the other half to her boyfriend, 34-year-old Michael Badmin. Now the daughters have taken their inheritance row to court, arguing that she was suffering from the tumour at the time she changed her will - just a month before she died - and wasn't in her right mind.
It's not the first time that an inheritance row has ended in court - and the process can be horribly destructive.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
According to the Telegraph, the new will gave Badmin a life interest in her half of the money made from the sale of the family farm - a 90-acre farm, near Canterbury, which sold for £1.18 million. On Badmin's death, the money would pass to her daughters - who are roughly the same age as Badmin. The rest of the money was to be split in two - with the sisters having half and Badmin taking the other half.
The Daily Mail reported that her daughters Alison Walker (31) and Jennifer Rowan (32) said their mother was 'delusional and irrational' when she signed the document - as a result of her illness. They agreed that their mother would have wanted to make provision for Badmin, but that she didn't understand the implications of her will fully.
Inheritance battlesThe case continues, so we will have to wait to see how the High Court rules. Unfortunately, however it ends, we can be sure it will have been an expensive and stressful business for everyone concerned.
Inheritance battles are always ugly, but they are alarmingly common. Law firm Hugh James says that in 2011, there were 663 inheritance cases in the High Court - twice as many as in 2006.
They can prove horribly expensive: in 2012 a family went to the appeal court in a battle over their mother's will. One son and one daughter argued that their mother lacked the mental capacity to change her will and disinherit the brother. Meanwhile, the other sister disagreed and fought them through court - and then through an appeal. The judge reserved judgement in the appeal and noted that because of the huge costs of fighting over the £120,000 estate: "There is going to be nothing left in this estate."
These battles can be drawn-out too. Last year a Canadian judge overseeing a man's fight for more of his father's will called the son a 'vexatious litigant'. His father had died in 1971, and in the 43 years that followed, the son brought more than 30 lawsuits and 100 court orders against the will's administrators and even the lawyers involved in the cases. The naming of the son as 'vexatious' would not stop him launching further cases in future, but would alert courts to his history when overseeing an argument. The judge said he expected the son to appeal.
These battles can fracture families too. We reported back in May on the farmer's daughter who was suing her parents, who changed their wills after an argument. She described a Cinderella life where she had worked for little or no money for years while her parents promised to leave her the farm on their death. However, after a row they changed their will so that instead of going to her it would be shared between the three daughters.
She sued them, was awarded a larger share of the farm, and then successfully beat an appeal. However, despite a theoretically happy ending for the daughter, the Judge pointed out that it was "in many ways a tragic case." He added: "The bitterness between the parties was such that each had few, if any, good words to say about the other."