Siblings Fight For £300,000 Will After Stepmum Cuts Them Out In Favour Of Her Parrot

By Haider Ali in News On 24th May 2023
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Three siblings are preparing to face each other in the High Court after being unexpectedly left out of their late stepmother's will, which favored only her biological child and a pet parrot. 

The siblings are seeking a portion of the £300,000 estate in the legal battle.

When Reginald and Maureen first drafted their wills in 2017, they divided their assets four ways between their shared son Brett and his step-siblings Ian, Sean, and Lorraine, who were from Reginald's previous marriage.

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However, it appears that Maureen revised the will soon after Reginald's death to completely exclude her stepchildren and leave the assets to her biological son so that he could take care of her beloved pet parrot.

The three siblings made the decision to file a lawsuit against their stepbrother Brett, who calls himself Lord of Hastings, in 2022 in an effort to reinstate the original will and get a portion of the property.

In order for Brett, 48, to "continue to provide care for her green Amazonian orange winged parrot," Maureen allegedly altered her will to leave him her East Sussex home.

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Initially, the Central London County Court decided in favor of 'Lord' Brett, stating that while Maureen'may has been ethically compelled' to keep her three step-children in the will, she wasn't required to do so by law.

Although Reginald had "implicitly trusted his wife" not to leave her stepchildren out of the will, Judge Graeme Robertson observed that there had not been "an express or implied contractual arrangement, between Reginald and Maureen, to the effect that neither would later change their will without informing the other or following the death of the other."

The three siblings are now, however, appealing the decision and bringing their case to the High Court.

Michael Horton KC argues that the decision was wrong and that, even though there was no written agreement, Maureen did make a verbal promise to her husband, on behalf of Sean, Ian, and Lorraine.

He said the following to the High Court judge on May 22: "Maureen said words to the effect that she would not change her will or disinherit her stepchildren and that she trusted her husband implicitly.

"Reginald died on 16 March 2019... his estate passed to Maureen.

"On 16 August 2019, Maureen executed a new will, by which she gifted her entire estate to Brett absolutely, thereby disinheriting the claimants in exactly the manner she had promised Reginald she would not.

"The judge (found) that no mutual contractual obligation arose between Reginald and Maureen not to revoke their wills, despite finding that Maureen expressly promised that she would not revoke the will and disinherit her stepchildren if Reginald predeceased her.

"The trial judge erred in law in holding that only a contractual agreement is capable of supporting a claim based on mutual wills....the contract requirement is both anomalous and capricious."

Judge Robertson had determined, he said, that the three siblings had failed to establish that their father had executed his will "in reliance on Maureen's promise."

He committed a legal error by putting the burden of proof on the issue of reliance on the claimants as opposed to the defendant.

Brett, who is advocating for himself, claims that Judge Roberson made the appropriate decision.

Judge Sir Anthony Mann of the High Court will rule on the issue at a later date.