The Law Society Gazette outlined the case in a recent article. Colin Randall’s former mother-in-law had left him nothing from her estate.
He challenged the will, claiming that it had been forged so that it would defeat an order made in his divorce proceedings. Randall’s ex-wife Hilary Randall had agreed that if she inherited more than £100,000 from her mother, anything more than £100,000 would be split equally between her and her husband.
In her will, her mother left £100,000 to Mrs Randall and the balance of her estate (approximately £150,000) was left to Mrs Randall’s children. Randall launched proceedings to challenge the will’s validity. Deputy Master Collaco Moraes said Randall didn’t have sufficient interest in the will.
Therefore, he had no standing to bring a claim. Acting for Mrs Randall at the Court of Appeal, solicitor Mark Baxter said that the only people who could challenge a will were those who had the right to administer an estate. As Randall wasn’t entitled to administer the estate, he therefore didn’t have sufficient interest to bring a claim.
Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, however, ruled that “justice in the general sense requires the husband to bring a probate claim to set aside the will”. He noted that the overriding interest set by the procedural code was to deal with cases justly.
If Randall didn’t have an interest in the estate, then there would be no other way he could challenge the validity of the will. Lord Dyson said Randall was no “mere busybody” and that he had a real interest in challenging the will.
Lord Justice McCombe agreed, saying it appeared to be highly unjust that the party affected by an alleged forgery couldn’t challenge the validity of a will in probate proceedings. Lady Justice King also agreed.