Marie Curie, Action on Hearing Loss, the RNIB and the Royal Institute of Cancer Research have won their case to retain a £1.8m legacy.
The dispute revolved around the estate of Dorothy Whelen, who had made a will in 1982 giving all her assets to the four charities.
The four charities won their case against a Mr Alan Turner, the son of Mrs Whelen’s friend Hazel Turner, who claimed that a will created in 1999 and giving the bulk of the estate to his mother was Mrs Whelen’s last will.
The legal battle over which of the wills should be taken to probate began when Mrs Whelen died in 2012. The case was complicated by the fact that Mrs Turner, who is now 95-years-old and suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease, was too ill to attend the court proceedings.
The judge ruled that the later will had not been properly witnessed and was therefore invalid, with the earlier will to apply instead.
Royds Solicitors represented the charities. Tony Millson, head of the Royds private client department, said:
“There has been an increase in the number of disputes involving charities over the course of the last five years or so: disputes involving wills have increased generally and the current financial climate may well have played its part.
“Will disputes can create problems for charities, which they would obviously much prefer to avoid. It may be that costs are incurred that cannot be recovered or they lose out on a significant bequest. If people want to leave money to charities it is best they leave clear instructions and seek advice from a solicitor which reduces the risk of a dispute arising at a later stage.”
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