A woman from Berkshire who disputed her father’s will may face legal costs higher than the amount she was originally left.
The woman, an only child, was left £100,000 by her father on his death. The majority of his £630,000 estate, however, went to his four siblings, with whom the daughter had a relationship of “of mutual estrangement and immense suspicion”. She alleged that the two of his sisters had brought undue pressure to bear on her father and made him sign a will they had drawn up themselves which he had not fully understood or approved.
Disputing the will at a hearing in 2013, the daughter told a court that her father had always been generous to her and had promised that she would inherit his estate. But she lost the case and the will was ‘admitted to probate’ (gained legal approval). Her father’s family then sought compensatory (‘indemnity’) costs from her, rather than simply seeking payment of their “considerable” but unspecified legal costs from the estate, because the daughter had made claims of misconduct against her father’s family.
A judge at the Chancery Division of the High Court made a costs award against the daughter, but did not clarify whether or not her liability was limited to the sum she had inherited from her father. She insisted that she could not afford to pay the sums ordered.
The case returned to court and once again went against the daughter. A judge ruled that her liability was indeed not limited to the £100,000 she had inherited from her late father. As a result, said the Judge, she may have to sell other assets, including her home, to meet the costs.
Read the original ruling here.