Inheritance Disputes: Brother Loses Contentious Probate Fight With Sister

A brother, who accused his sister of manipulating and influencing their mother into changing her will, has had his claim rejected in court.

Rosemary Foss had acted as her mother’s, Peggy Cordle’s, main carer and moved into the family home to help the 93-year-old navigate through life in her later years.  However, Sidney Cordle claimed that his sister used this time to ‘turn his mother against him,’ take over her mother’s finances, use money from the estate to benefit herself and put undue pressure on their mother to change her will.

The dispute was launched following the passing of Mrs Cordle in 2016 and the perceived unfair division of her estate where her £300,000 home in East Sussex was bequeathed to Rosemary along with around £20,000, leaving Mr Cordle with a £40,000 share of the estate.

Mr Cordle, long-term leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance, represented himself in court, highlighting his sister’s purchase of a new car as evidence of the perceived ill-gotten spoils. However, his accusations had failed to base themselves in any clear evidence that Rosemary Foss had influenced her mother into changing her will.

Additionally, Peggy Cordle’s GP’s evidence emphasised that Peggy had full capacity to ‘manage her affairs’ even though she was a lot more physically fragile towards the end of her life. Judge John Hand then dismissed the case.

Judge John Hand QC, commented: “There is absolutely no realistic basis for suggesting that she [Rosemary Foss] misconducted herself in respect of these matters.

“His [Sidney Cordle] complaint was that he suspected his sister had taken to controlling their late mother’s financial affairs and had used her money for her own benefit.  He says his sister has always been motivated by a determination to reduce the amount of money in the estate to which he might be entitled.

“She [Rosemary] and her husband regard God’s law as paramount but I don’t regard that as a basis for removing her as executor.

“Both of them [mother and daughter] had a strong religious faith and relied on God to guide the decisions they made on a daily basis. But nothing that Rosemary did comes anywhere near to amounting to undue influence.”

Should the will have been contested in this case?  How common are cases like this?  To make sure you minimise the risk involved in this type of situation, click here


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