The case of the cleaner and a will that was ruled invalid in court
By Maplebrook Wills
3rd Jul '19
An invalid will
By making a will, you want to make sure your wishes will be honoured. But it’s not unknown for wills to challenged by friends and family of the deceased.
A recent example of this happening concerns the will of Harold Tickner, who died at the age of 91 in 2015. In his will, Harold left everything to his nephew and daughter.
But in the High Court, the judge ruled that the will was invalid. He said that Harold had lacked “mental capacity” when he made the will just 16 days before he died of cancer.
Lack of capacity
According to a report in The Times, evidence from doctors convinced the judge that Harold couldn’t have fully understood what he was doing when he made the will.
The legal ruling means that Harold’s previous will is valid again. In that will, he bequeathed most of his estate – including his home in Harrow – to his cleaner, Leonora Da Costa.
A change of inheritance
Leonora will now inherit cash, worth around £15,000, that remains in Harold’s estate. She can also challenge Harold’s gift of his house, worth £500,000, to his nephew. The gift was made on the day he changed his will.
In her evidence, Leonora said she’d diligently cared for Harold – a former head waiter at London’s Savoy hotel – after his wife died in 2012. She’d cooked for him and cleaned his home every day, as well as going out with him for meals. She described their relationship as being like “father and daughter”.
The judge reportedly said it was unsurprising that Harold had left the bulk of his estate to Leonora. But he also acknowledged the fact that his daughter and nephew had been his most frequent visitors in the nursing home where he spent the last few weeks of his life.