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Ongoing Family Feud Ends with Will Fight Defeat

03 Oct 2017

Posted in Legal News

Sadly, there are more legal fights over deceased estates than in previous decades and the ensuing battles for all involved can be testing. One such example, which made the news over the summer, was the case of the Ball family from Wiltshire, which is notable due to the dark circumstances, which led to three of the youngsters being omitted from their family legacy.

The problem started 26 years ago, at the beginning of the 1990s when three siblings made allegations against their father and has ended with children losing out in a battle over the family’s estate. The siblings lost their challenge to the Will of their late mother, Barbara Ball’s legacy, which they fought on grounds of lack of mental capacity, and of undue influence by her husband.

There were 11 children in the family and in 1991, whilst their father James Ball was still alive, three of them reported him to police for indecently assaulting them when they were minors. It resulted in a prosecution at which he admitted some of the charges against him and received a suspended prison sentence.

However, the mother Barbara Ball was against the three children’s decision to go to the police, and in 1992 showed her disapproval by drafting a Will that excluded them from any share of her estate – she instead chose to divide her estate between her other eight children and one of her grandsons.

The father, James Ball died in 2004 and Barbara Ball died in 2013 without having made a new Will. Despite the Will totalling only £157,000, the disinherited siblings decided to challenge the Will on the grounds of lack of capacity and of undue influence by her husband. The argument was based on the view that Mr Ball had told his wife that he was innocent of the assaults, and that this was what had led her to disinherit them.

Therefore, the argument continued that her mind was impaired in the sense that she was misled and … would not have reached those conclusions had she not been misled by her husband. The undue influence part of the argument was based on the fact that Mrs Ball had disinherited the three children in response to their accusations against Mr Ball, and must, therefore, have been influenced by him.

However, both arguments were rejected in the High Court as there was evidence that Mr Ball had admitted to his wife that some of the children’s allegations against him were fact. She was not therefore misled, which disposed of the argument from lack of capacity. The judge’s also considered that Mrs Ball was entitled to make the Will she had made, and this did not mean it was made under undue influence.

Here at Pindoria Solicitors, being wills and probate solicitor, we believe not all disputes can be avoided, but as much as can be done should be detailed to avoid the energy sapping fights over estates.

Having helped many people make their Wills and overseen the estates of countless people in our region, we are happy to assist those needing the peace of mind that comes with expert advice. If you wish to ask any questions regarding this delicate area of law, we at Pindoria Solicitors are on hand to assist.