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Legal ruling 'not a green light to challenge wills'

Thu 16 Dec 2010

A judge has insisted that people who are disappointed with the amount they have been handed in a will should not launch a challenge because of a recent court ruling.

Last month, a court decided to overturn Joyce Gill's will, which had stated that a farm worth more than £2 million should go to the RSPCA and not her daughter Christine.

However, Lord Neuberger said this particular case was "exceptional" because Mrs Gill had suffered from a "fairly extreme" version of "relatively unusual" mental condition.

The court also ruled in Christine's favour because it believed Mrs Gill had been pressurised into making the will by her domineering husband.

As a result, Lord Neuberger thinks the outcome of this case should not be seen as a "green light" for those who are unhappy with what they have been bequeathed to launch their own legal challenge

Hugh MacDougald, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: "Even though the Master of the Rolls was right to say that this particular case should be viewed on its very particular set of facts, the RSPCA were also right to test their position in one of the highest courts in the land - to do otherwise would have been an abdication of their responsibilities as Charity Trustees.

"Plus - whatever the Master of the Rolls may say - the outcome will feature prominently in the national press and will increase the sense of entitlement of many 'beneficiaries' who feel they have not been treated 'fairly' in a will. This in turn will lead to more attempts to overturn wills and increased litigation will follow, together with higher professional indemnity costs, for those professionals who take on the long term responsibility of estate planning."

This comes after Unbiased.co.uk revealed that about 4.5 million people in the UK plan to bequeath their estate to a charitable organisation.ADNFCR-2761-ID-800294951-ADNFCR

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