Posted on 19th October 2009

How to Prevent Wills Being Contested in Wake of a North Yorkshire Case

In the wake of a North Yorkshire woman successfully contesting her parents' will after they left their 2.34m estate to the RSPCA, Anne Elliott, a Partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors, in Darlington, is advising on the precautions people should take if they want to prevent their will being challenged.

Christine Gill, 58, of Potto, near Northallerton, claimed her father coerced her mother into making the will that gave their 287-acre farm to the animal charity.

Her parents had signed mirror wills in 1993, which left the farm to each other and then to the RSPCA if they both died.

The court accepted that John Gill, who died in 1999 aged 82, had used his "domineering and bombastic personality" to force his wife Joyce to follow his wishes.

But experts disagreed about her mental state, with one telling the court that whilst she was an eccentric woman she did not have a formal psychiatric disorder.

Anne said: These days a solicitor should warn someone making a will leaving money to charity rather than to the family that there is a serious risk of the will being contested.

To prevent this happening it is sensible for clients to authorise their solicitor to contact their GP to obtain a report on their mental capacity, specifically referring to the terms of the proposed will.

Regarding this case, I suspect that the RSCPA will appeal as the reports suggest that experts disagreed about the mothers mental state.