After a three-year dispute, a landmark judgement has been made in favour of a client represented by Talbots, a Black Country law firm.
Since 2016, a Norton Canes family has been at war over an estate valued at approximately £1m. The dispute focused on whether a mother’s new will, made in 2011, invalidated one made a year earlier. Rather than one child as the main beneficiary, the new will shared Beryl Parsonage’s estate equally amongst each of her four children.
Aside from the personal impact, what marks this exceptional case out is that the judgement was made in the High Court, meaning it will guide future cases for many years to come.
Talbots’ client – Ian Parsonage – had argued his mother’s ‘second will’ should be observed, something his younger brother disputed. Duncan Parsonage, the main beneficiary of the ‘first will’, battled for that to be upheld due to his mother’s dementia, meaning he would be gifted a property (valued up to £290,000) whilst his son would have an equal share of the residue estate (worth a minimum of £200,000.)
After six days at the High Court of Justice at the Birmingham District Registry, the dispute was settled in Ian’s favour.
His Honour Judge Baker QC found in favour of Ian stating that his mother’s dementia did not adversely affect her capacity when executing the ‘second will’.
The Judge further ruled that the ‘first will’ was invalid – it was one of those rare cases where all the evidence points to the deceased materially misunderstanding the nature and extent of her estate and the misconceived idea three of her children had received significant lifetime gifts.
“This was an extremely demanding dispute with emotions running high and a complex legal argument to be explored,” commented Jagdip Bains, Head of Dispute Resolution at Talbots Law, who led on the case.
“I have been working with Ian and his wife from the outset and with the support of Counsel, Claire van Overdijk, and my team, we provided a compelling reason why the ‘second will’ was valid and why the estate should be split equally between the four children.”
She continued: “We are delighted the judge found in Ian’s favour and hope that this verdict will give him some comfort in that his mother’s dying wishes have been respected. After a really tough three years we have got the right verdict and the one our mother would have wanted.
“Jagdip and Talbots have been great throughout what has been a very difficult process and have played a major role in us arriving at the right outcome.”