Will Dispute Case Law9 Jun 2023 | Katie de Swarte
New Births And New Relationships? Review Your Will To Avoid A Dispute
You’d imagine a wealthy businessman with assets in different countries would remember to update his will to protect his growing family. A dispute following the high-profile death of a Russian billionaire is a reminder to all to review a will following major life events – or risk a claim after death.
The contested probate solicitors at Osbornes Law are highly experienced in representing individuals involved in high-value probate disputes involving cross-border estates.
Importantly, whether your estate is likely to be significant – or of relatively low value – it is vital to keep your will updated. Probate disputes can drain an estate of funds that would otherwise go to the beneficiaries, but disputes are usually avoidable if timely specialist advice is obtained.
Morina v Scherbakova
In this case, Russian billionaire Vladimir Alekseyevich Scherbakov died in Belgium in June 2017 leaving a multi-jurisdictional estate including properties across Europe.
He had two children (now adults) with his wife from whom he had separated around 2015. He began a new relationship with the claimant (Brigita) and they had a son in 2014 and a daughter Olivya in 2016.
In October 2015, before Olivya’s birth, Vladimir made an English will leaving the vast majority of his non-Russian estate to Brigita, their son and Brigita’s son from a prior relationship. No provision was made for Olivya. The original will has not been located.
Various disputes arose in relation to the non-Russian estate and Brigita has asked the court to admit the 2015 will to probate. Vladimir’s adult children are contesting her claim on the basis that he should be presumed to have revoked it and that his fortune should be split between all his children.
The probate claim includes a claim on Olivya’s behalf for a share as she is not a beneficiary under the will. We will be watching the outcome of these claims with interest, but what we can be sure about is that Olivya will be entitled to a substantial amount.
How that will be calculated remains to be determined, but her claim could have been avoided had her father made a new will after her birth – or even in anticipation of the birth.
How can we help?
If you’re involved in an estate dispute following someone’s death, the specialist contested probate solicitors at Osbornes Law are available to provide specialist advice and representation.
The probate disputes team works closely with our wills and probate colleagues. If you’re considering making a will or updating your existing will, we can support you. Get in touch with the team on 020 7485 8811
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