Siblings fight for £300,000 will after stepmum cuts them out in favour of her parrot
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Three siblings are about to battle it out in High Court for a slice of their late step-mum's £300,000 after she shockingly cut them out in favour of her only biological child and her pet parrot.
When couple Reginald and Maureen originally wrote up their wills in 2017, they had organised their wealth to be split four ways between their shared son Brett, and his step-siblings Ian, Sean, and Lorraine, who were from Reginald's previous marriage.
However, shortly after Reginald's passing, it would seem that Maureen updated the will to cut out her stepchildren entirely, leaving the inheritance to her biological son so that he could care for her beloved pet parrot.
In 2022, the three siblings decided to sue their stepbrother Brett, who goes by the self-imposed title of Lord of Hastings, in a bid to reinstate the original will and get a slice of the inheritance.
Brett, 48, claims that Maureen updated her will to leave him her East Sussex house, mainly so that he could 'continue to provide care for her green Amazonian orange winged parrot'.
Originally, the Central London County Court ruled in favour of 'Lord' Brett, noting that, although Maureen 'may have been morally bound' to keep her three step-kids in the will, she wasn't legally bound to do so.
Judge Graeme Robertson noted that, although Reginald had 'trusted his wife implicitly' not to ice her step-children out of the will, there had not been "a contractual arrangement, whether express or implied, 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."
But now, the three siblings are appealing the ruling and taking their case to the High Court.
Arguing on behalf of Sean, Ian, and Lorraine, Michael Horton KC claims that the ruling was incorrect and that, although no agreement had been made on paper, Maureen did make a verbal promise to her husband.
On Monday (22 May), he told the High Court judge: "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."
He went on to say that the Judge Robertson had ruled that the three siblings failed to make prove that their father had executed his will 'in reliance on Maureen's promise.'
"He erred in law in placing the burden of proof on the issue of reliance upon the claimants rather than upon the defendant."
Meanwhile, Brett, who is representing himself, argues that Judge Roberson made the right call.
High Court judge Sir Anthony Mann is set to give his decision on the case at a later date.