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Unkind Daughter Loses Contentious Probate Case

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by: Paul Winterflood

The season of goodwill has fallen by the wayside within a feuding London family after a daughter has had her attempts to overturn her deceased mother’s Will rejected.

Patricia Johnson contested the Will of her mother, Maudlin Bascoe, after it emerged, she was only set to inherit a reduced legacy of £100. Mrs Bascoe originally made a Will in 1992 where she left an inheritance worth £10,000 to each of her four children.

However, following a fractious relationship with her daughters, Mrs Bascoe decided to reassess her final express wishes.

In 2005, Mrs Bascoe instructed Mr Whynter to draft a final Will which expressed a desire to leave her daughters nothing ‘beyond the legacies I have made in this will.’

Mrs Bascoe cited ‘rude, unpleasant and in some instances physically violent’ behaviour towards her as the main reason for leaving a token £100 to Patricia Johnson and £500 to her other daughter Beverley.

The rest of the estate was intended to pass down to her son, Barnaby, who was also co-executor of the estate along with Mr Whynter.

After Mrs Bascoe died in 2015 at the age of 87, Patricia Johnson claimed the 2005 Will should be considered invalid because the donor lacked capacity, suffered undue influence by Mr Barnaby and Mrs Bascoe’s signature was forged.

Patricia also claimed her mother was showing signs of suffering from dementia from as early as 2001 which would have meant the 2005 could have been made after she lost capacity.

However, the trial found overwhelmingly against these claims. Although Maudlin Bascoe did later lose capacity, the earliest medical records indicated that the family first raised the issue in 2008, three years after the Will was drafted.

Official diagnoses for vascular dementia was not made until February 2009 and whilst attempting to draft a Will in 2012, Mrs Bascoe was refused because she lacked capacity.

Mr Whynter further bolstered the case against Mrs Johnson after claiming Mrs Bascoe was not influenced by her son whilst making the 2005 document.

The judge claimed Patricia Johnson had ‘come nowhere near establishing the basis for any proper challenge,’ whilst finding in favour of a valid 2005 Will.

He further explained that finding the signature to be a forgery would have meant all three independent witnesses colluding; witnesses and evidence he considered ‘cannot be impugned.’

Maudlin Bascoe’s explanatory note stated:

“I have deemed it prudent to place within my will a note explaining the disparity in the amounts that I have left to my children and in particular the pecuniary legacies to my daughters Beverley and Patricia.

“Both my daughters, Beverley and Patricia, have shown very little care and concern for me in my later years and in particular they have both been rude, unpleasant and in some instances physically violent and abusive towards me and have verbally expressed their lack of care and concern with such statements as ‘you should be placed in a home and dead in there’.

“I therefore have no desire that they should benefit from my estate over and beyond the legacies I have made in this will.”

Presiding judge Deputy Master Linwood, commented:

“The 2005 Will is rational and was read over by Mr Wynter to Mrs Bascoe who had testamentary capacity at the time. It was properly executed and the evidence of Mr Wynter, Miss Middleton-Albooye and Ms Watson cannot be impugned. Accordingly, the strong presumptions in favour of validity are present.

“Miss Johnson has come nowhere near establishing the basis for any proper challenge; there is no documentary evidence which supports her and in particular nothing from independent third parties especially in contemporaneous documentary form.

“Her evidence has been contradictory, self-serving and deliberately misleading. That of her witnesses does not assist her in any respect.

“I have no hesitation in finding for the Claimants.”

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