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Published On: January 15, 2015 | Blog | 0 comments

Can a Creditor of a Beneficiary of an Estate Challenge the Will?

Those who are owed money will often find that they have to go to considerable lengths to have it repaid.  If the debtor inherits enough money to pay off their debt, then that could be a very good way for a creditor to obtain payment in one lump sum.

However, what about the position where a creditor feels that the debtor could be entitled to an inheritance, but where they would have to challenge the validity of a will to obtain that and do not want to do so.  Could the creditor challenge the will instead? This was the question for the Court in the case of Colin Randall v Hilary Randall [2014] EHWC 3134.

The case concerned the will of Mrs Sylvia Corrall deceased who died on 11 March 2013.  Mrs Corrall was the mother of Hilary Randall.

Colin and Hilary Randall were formerly married.  Following their divorce, they settled claims for financial provision by a consent order dated 12 May 2006 which contained the following provision:

“in the event that [Hilary Randall] receives hereafter any property and/or monies from her mother by way of inter vivos gifts and/or inheritance [she] shall retain the first £100,000 of the sum of any such gifts and/or inheritance and the balance shall be divided equally between [the parties].”

When Mrs Corrall died, she left a will dated 20 October 2009 (although it appears that the date was wrong and it should have been dated 20 October 2011), which provided that Hilary Randall receive the sum of £100,000 (the most that she could receive under the terms of the consent order before she had to share it with her ex-husband) with the remainder going to Mrs Corrall’s grandchildren.  Hilary Randall obtained a Grant of Probate on 3 May 2013.

Colin Randall asserted that the will had not been properly executed for a variety of reasons, and that the Grant of Probate should be revoked.  He suggested that Hilary should inherit the entire estate, said to be worth some £250,000, which would have result in a payment to him of approximately £75,000.  (There was an earlier will which made the same provision for Hilary Randall, so Colin Randall would have had to knock out both wills in order to succeed in his claim).

The question for the Judge was whether Colin Randall had the right to bring a claim for revocation of the will, given that he was potentially a creditor of a beneficiary of the estate and had no direct entitlement under the will.  The Court decided that he did not have that right because he did not have ‘an interest in an estate’ which is required in order to challenge a will.  He had no right to receive anything from the estate.

The Court also found that Colin Randall’s rights were personal ones against his ex-wife, and not against his ex-mother in law.  Mrs Corrall was not a party to the divorce consent order and was not required to make a gift of her estate to her daughter.

Colin Randall was therefore not entitled to challenge the will.

If you require any advice on challenging a will, please contact a member of our contentious probate team.

Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.
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