The Will of a wealthy property investor has been overturned by the High Court on the basis that he did not know and approve of the contents.
Property tycoon Kevin Reeves, raised as an orphan in a convent, built up an empire valued at £100 million pounds. In 2012, he made a Will leaving his fortune to his descendants, with 80% being left to his three children and the remaining 20% to his two grandchildren.
However, following his death, one of his sons, Bill Reeves, discovered that a subsequent Will had been signed by his father in 2014, leaving only £200,000 of personal possessions to Bill, with the deceased’s daughter Louise Reeves inheriting the bulk of his estate.
Claim to overturn the Will
Bill brought legal action, claiming that Louise had persuaded their father to sign the newer Will and that he had not read it, nor understood what its contents were. He said that his relationship with his father was good and had not changed. There was no reason for him to be cut out of the Will.
Kevin’s background (including the fact that he left school at the age of 12) meant that he could neither read nor write.
The court ruling
The judge found that Louise Reeves was a risk taker who could be manipulative, saying, “She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it… I believe that she was prepared to take the risk, because the prize was so great.”
He also stated that there was no evidence that Kevin Reeves had read the 2014 Will by himself, saying, “[Louise Reeves] would have known that the deceased would not have been able to read the 2014 Will by himself… I think she was relying on his illiteracy… to make it very unlikely that he would try to read the draft 2014 Will himself.”
The fact that Louise Reeves could not explain why her father would so drastically change his intentions also made the court suspicious.
The judge ruled that the 2014 Will was not valid, meaning that the 2012 Will would take effect as the deceased’s most recent valid Will.
Louise Reeves was also required to pay her own costs, plus 70% of Bill Reeves’ costs, likely to be a combined total of around £2 million.
The importance of a valid Will
In order to ensure your estate will pass as per your wishes, it is crucial for those left behind that a valid Will is in place. This will greatly reduce the risk of a dispute arising and means you can have peace of mind – knowing that your loved ones will be supported in the future.
By preparing your Will with a professional law firm, you can ensure that it is not only valid, but that your estate will pass as per your wishes, achieving your aims in the most efficient way and securing your assets for the next generation.
For more information on preparing your Will with BakerLaw, please visit our Wills page.
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