Landmark judgment in million pound inheritance battle

Head of Dispute Resolution at Talbots Law, Jagdip Bains, who was instructed by Ian Parsonage the son of the late Beryl Parsonage, successfully obtained an order in the High Court after being engaged in a 3 year battle over the validity of Beryl’s last will.

Beryl died on 18 November 2015 aged 86 years old.  She left behind 4 children, Alison Taylor, Sian Folley, Ian Parsonage and Duncan Parsonage and a total of 8 grandchildren.

Beryl Parsonage made 2 wills that were subject to the dispute. Beryl executed a will on 4 February 2010 (“the 2010 Will”) and executed a further will on 9 January 2011 (“the 2011 Will”).  Both wills were prepared by a solicitor.  The 2010 Will was signed and witnessed before a solicitor and the 2011 Will was signed and witnessed before 2 neighbours.

In summary, the 2010 Will made the following provisions:

  • Beryl’s property at Norton Hall Lane, worth between £230,000 and £290,000 was to be gifted to Duncan;
  • The sum of £35,000 was to be gifted to each of Beryl’s 4 children;
  • The residue worth a minimum of £200,000 but up to £500,000 was to be divided into 2 shares. One share to Tomas Parsonage (Beryl’s grandson and Duncan’s only child) and one share to Sian Folley.

The 2011 Will divides the estate amongst Beryl’s 4 children in equal shares.

Beryl’s estate is worth between £700,000 and £1m.

Duncan contested the validity of the 2011 Will on the basis that Beryl lacked capacity as she was suffering from dementia and sought an order that the 2010 Will was valid. 

Duncan claimed that the rationale behind the 2010 Will was that his siblings had been gifted property in their lifetimes by his parents and his mother wanted him to have the property at Norton Hall Lane.  No rationale was provided as to why Tomas and Sian should benefit from the residuary estate.

Following a 6 day trial in December 2018, His Honour Judge Barker QC today handed down judgment sitting at the High Court of Justice in Birmingham in favour of Ian Parsonage.  He found that whilst Beryl Parsonage was suffering from dementia, the dementia at the time of 2011 was still mild and she was capable of making sound and thorough decisions, especially in the context of making a Will.  The Judge went further and ordered that the 2010 Will was invalid on the basis that Beryl materially misunderstood the nature and extent of her estate. 

Ian was successful in seeking an order that the 2011 was valid  and Duncan was ordered to pay Ian’s costs of £152,500 to be charged against Duncan’s share of the inheritance from Beryl’s estate.

A full copy of the Judgment is available here

For further information and advice on this or any other dispute problem, get in touch with us directly, either by calling 0800 118 1500, or contact Jagdip Bains by email to find out how we can help you today.