High Court Ruling against Several Animal Charities in a Legacy Case

The High Court has upheld that a man is entitled to his aunt's residuary estate, despite the Will leaving the residuary estate to seven animal charities.

Mr Kenneth King lived with and cared for his elderly aunt, June Fairbrother, until she died in April 2011.

Mrs Fairbrother had previously made a Will leaving her residuary estate to a number of animal charities.  Mr King contended that his aunt left a deathbed gift to him (known as a "donatio mortis causa").  Mr King gave his evidence and said that Mrs Fairbrother never discussed the existence of a Will but on a number of occasions had told him that the property would be his after her death.  Mrs Fairbrother shortly before her death, had signed documents to the effect that Mr King should have the property when she died.  The animal charities contested the deathbed gift and in light of the High Court's ruling, are considering appealing against the decision.

A statement has been issued by the charities' lawyers expressing disappointment at the ruling, which they believe has overruled the Will of a long-term supporter of animal welfare.

Mrs Fairbrother died in 2011, her estate mainly consisted of a property worth £350,000.

This raises the issue of the importance of legacies to charities and the importance for supporters to review their Wills regularly to ensure that their intended wishes are carried out effectively in order to avoid any unwanted litigation.  It is also highlights the importance of family members discussing their wishes with their loved ones and it is always important to seek legal advice in carrying such wishes so they are documented properly.

King v Dubrey and others [2014] All ER (D) 24 (Jul)

Posted on: 14/07/2014

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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