Nephew promised inheritance successfully contests Will

By Lenore Rice

The High Court has acted to ensure that the nephew of an elderly woman who left his job to look after her received the inheritance he was promised, despite the elderly woman making a new Will cutting him out and leaving all her £300,000 estate to her window cleaner.

Cecil Bray, now aged 82, took a job in his retirement as a driver but decided to leave it to spend more time looking after his elderly aunt, Julie Spalding. The Court heard that taking care of his aunt became almost a full-time job, and that she in return promised she would leave him her bungalow in her Will. A Will executed in 2003 left her house and most of her money to Mr Bray. However, the court learned that the aunt had a number of falls in 2005 and her personality changed considerably. She eventually ordered Mr Bray out of her house, reportedly after meeting window cleaner Albert Pearce, who himself then began to help take care of Ms Spalding.

Julie Spalding was described to the court as being a "difficult woman" who didn't get on well with many people in her family. She made three more Wills, the last of which left everything to Mr Pearce. Mr Bray challenged her testamentary capacity to make those Wills, the last of which was signed one year before her death at the age of 98. The Court agreed that she lacked the capacity to execute those Wills and reinstated the 2003 Will that left almost everything to Mr Bray.

There are rules to protect people who have acted to their detriment because of a promised inheritance, if that promise is not then honoured. The doctrine of estoppel can be used to challenge the Will.

To speak to a solicitor in Northern Ireland about contesting a Will contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 9293. Or to read more information and advice on contesting a Will click here.