Grandmother’s will “Rectified”

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    A 28-year-old spent 18 months living with her partner before they married leading to a bitter family dispute in the High Court.

    Lawyers acting on behalf of the two sons and daughter of the 87-year-old grandmother successfully persuaded the judge to rectify their mother’s Will.

    Her grandmother, a staunch Catholic, had a ‘pious abhorrence’ of couples ‘living in sin’ and, after a bitter High Court battle, those traditional beliefs have been cited as a reason for Mrs Barrett being cut out of her £220,000 will.

    The businesswoman – who has since married Alastair Barrett – was unaware that her Irish-born grandmother, who died in July 2010 at the age of 87, held such strong views about couples cohabiting. The bitter family rift over whether Mrs Barrett should inherit any of Bridget Murray’s money came to a head in London’s High Court after a protracted dispute involving her aunt and two uncles.

    Mrs Barrett, of Basingstoke, Hampshire, was named as a beneficiary in her grandmother’s will, which she had drawn up months before she died.
    But lawyers for Mrs Murray’s two sons, David and John Murray, and her daughter Catherine, asked a judge to ‘rectify’ the will.

    A fourth child, Monica, died three years before the grandmother and it was her children, Mrs Barrett and her brother, David Robertson, who stood to gain a quarter share of the will – £27,500 each. But that was before the other children – their uncles and aunt – went to court to have them struck out. They argued that Mrs Murray had vowed she would never include Mrs Barrett in her will because she ‘cohabited’ before getting married.

    They further claimed that a clause in the will bequeathing Mrs Barrett a share of her £220,000 fortune had been a drafting ‘mistake’.

    Judge Robert Miles QC, sitting at London’s High Court, ruled that the devout pensioner had not intended Mrs Barrett – or her brother David – to benefit from her will. The judge accepted that some might view the elderly Mrs Murray’s attitude and views as ‘capricious’ and ‘not particularly fair’ as he ordered that the will be rectified so Caroline and David were removed as beneficiaries.

    A family rift developed after Mrs Murray’s surviving three children disputed the document, insisting that her ‘intentions differed from those expressed in the will’.

    Edward Hicks, for Caroline Barrett and David Robertson, said Mrs Murray had no logical reason to exclude them and called the step ‘very unusual’. He added that he understood Mrs Murray had checked the will and was happy with the document.

    Asked in court about her grandmother’s attitude to her living with a man out of wedlock, Mrs Barrett said: ‘I wouldn’t ever say that she was stern about it.’ Deputy Judge Miles ordered that the will be rectified after ruling that the two grandchildren had only been named due to a clerical error which the court could correct.

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