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Charity Legacy - Animal Charities Take Legal Action against Bereaved Partner


An ongoing Court case involving an original charity legacy has again outlined the problems that, sadly, can occur after the death of a loved one.

Tracey Leaning had made a will in 2007, leaving her estate to four charities – The Dogs Trust, Friends of The Animals, World Animal Protection and Heart Research UK. However, she later met her partner Richard Guest and prepared a new, handwritten, will in 2014 leaving her estate to him on the proviso that he would take care of her three dogs.

The charities are now understood to be challenging the validity of the 2014 will in an attempt to have Mrs Leaning’s estate administered under the terms of the 2007 will. The reported grounds for such a claim derive from the fact that page containing Mrs Leaning and the witnesses signatures was not stapled to the rest of the document.

The case is ongoing and it remains to be seen whether the charities will ultimately be successful, but Mr Guest has already reportedly spent in excess of £10,000 in legal fees and has made offers of settlement to the charities.

This case is an example of the problems that unfortunately all too often occur after death and the legal costs that can be involved if a dispute is caused. For this reason it is important to obtain specialist advice as soon as possible, if you are concerned that a will might be invalid.

Disputes such a this also underline the value of obtaining legal advice in relation to the preparation of a will to ensure that everything is done properly. A solicitor will usually keep clear notes of a testator’s instructions and take care to ensure that the requirements of the Wills Act are met when a will is executed. Further, if mistakes are made when a solicitor has prepared the will, relatives may be left with a cause of action against the solicitor to recover any losses that they may suffer.

Clarion are able to offer advice to our clients in relation to both the preparation of wills and regarding disputes surrounding their validity.

IIf you have any questions, please contact Liam Brooke on 0113 336 3340 or via email liam.brooke@clarionsolicitors.com

Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.