Dispute arises in relation to late woman’s estate due to homemade Will

As another illustration of the importance of seeking professional advice on the making of a Will, four charities are embroiled in a dispute relating to a £340,000 estate, it has emerged.

Tracey Leaning, who lost her battle with cancer two years ago, was an animal lover and prior to meeting her partner, Richard Guest, had previously made a Will which left her estate to The Dogs Trust, World Animal Protection, Friends of the Animals and Heart Research UK.

Seven years on and by now terminally ill, Ms Leaning had made another Will. This time she provided for her estate pass to her partner and included no provision for the charities.

Following her death the following year, the charities who stood to benefit from the earlier Will argued that the later Will was invalid.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr Guest said:

“They are trying to say the second Will is invalid because the paper with the signature on it wasn’t stapled to the other part, but it was in the same sealed envelope and was only opened by her solicitor. It’s ironic that three animal charities are pushing this case when all I want to do is fulfil Tracey’s heartfelt desire that the dogs stay together in a familiar place.”

In a joint statement, the charities said:

“Charities are extremely grateful to receive gifts from Wills as they enable them to make a real difference to people and animals. If it is not possible to reach agreement about this, then the parties will need to ask the court to decide.”

Once again, there is a risk of last wishes not taking effect because of a failure to take simple yet essential steps to ensure that they are enshrined within a valid and duly executed Will. It is regrettable that in her attempt to put her affairs in order Ms Leaning did not recognise the importance of consulting her solicitor.