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Court Dismisses Grandchildren's Attempt to Dispute Will

Elderly couple examining their last will and testament

A High Court judge recently ruled to dismiss the attempt of five granddaughters to dispute their grandfather's will.

Frederick Ward Snr, who passed away in 2020, had three children named Fred, Terry and Susan. Sadly, his late son Fred died before he did, leaving five daughters of his own (Ward's granddaughters). On his death, Ward left most of his assets, including a £450,000 flat, to his two remaining children, Terry and Susan. He decided to leave only £50 to each of his five granddaughters from his late son, Fred. This decision faced opposition from the granddaughters, who claimed they deserved a portion equal to their late father's share of Ward's estate. They brought a claim.

Ward was a 91-year-old ex-soldier and had originally intended to leave his late son's share of his estate to his five granddaughters. However, he changed his mind following his disappointment over their absence from his life (failing to visit him regularly) especially when he was hospitalised due to a lung condition. He therefore changed his will in 2018.

At trial, the High Court held that Ward's 2018 will was "entirely rational", leaning on the limited contact between Ward and his grandchildren in the final years of his life. The court dismissed the granddaughters' claims that the will was invalid, together with their allegations of undue influence by Ward's two remaining children (their uncle and aunt), due to a lack of evidence. The Judge recognised that Ward's decision to change his last will and testament was a direct result of the changed relationship with his grandchildren.

This case demonstrates that beneficiaries under a drafted last will and testament should not be complacent about their perceived right to inherit, particularly in circumstances where their actions result in a rational decision to reduce their share of an estate, and should remind them that wills can be (and are) amended.

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