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Widower secures injunction to stop late wife’s burial

Grieving widow, Mr Eric Julien, recently successfully secured an injunction against his own daughter to stop his late wife’s burial taking place. The injunction was an urgent, necessary step pending an outcome in ongoing legal proceedings relating to the deceased’s estate. In this special Wealth Preservation Matters update, Contentious Trusts & Probate specialist, Michael Kilbane, considers what the injunction was for and the related court proceedings between the parties.

The main court proceedings – a contested will

The main claim in these proceedings involves a dispute between a father and daughter in respect of their late wife/mother’s will and estate.  Mr Julien (the father) is contesting a will produced by Ms Lisa White (the daughter) for the deceased is invalid on the basis:

  • at the time of signing the will, the late wife/mother was very confused, being ill with cancer, drifting in and out of consciousness, and was highly affected by a strong opioid drug and she was unable to hold a conversation for the whole of December (when she signed the will);
  • he and his wife had a close and trusting relationship (having been married for 57 years) and she would not have signed the will without him being there;
  • the will purported to state the deceased wanted to be buried in Ireland and to leave most of her estate to Ms White specifically, rather than all her five (in total) children;
  • the alleged will named Ms White and Ms Karen Shoreman (director of Crown Wills & Probate Service) as executors and also left £10,000 each to Ms White’s three grandchildren but nothing to the other six great-grandchildren; and
  • he believed his late wife wanted to leave all her estate to him and was always very clear and fair in treating her five children equally.

Ms White, the Defendant, denies his claims asserting her mother was not confused and/or highly medicated and recalling instructions being given to Ms Shoreman on speakerphone in front of her father and husband.

As part of the injunction application, the court heard claims how Ms White arranged for her mother to be buried on 10 March 2023, but when Mr Julien and other relatives contacted her, she stopped taking their calls and refused to stop the arrangements.

Mr Julien also reached out to the funeral director, Barnes & Hicks to ask them to delay the burial, but they refused to do so without a court order.

What was the emergency injunction for?

Given that Ms White and/or the funeral directors were refusing to delay the burial, Mr Julien applied to the High Court for an emergency injunction against his daughter to stop the burial going ahead. Mr Julien told the court how the deceased had a ‘horror of burial’ and she had often shared her fears with him about being underground with “worms and insects” and, therefore, had indicated  not wanting to be buried.

The court agreed with Mr Julien and made an order:

  • preventing a burial organised by Ms White on 10 March 2023;
  • specifying details for the funeral of the deceased, in particular for Ms Julien to be cremated following a Catholic funeral service in London and for her ashes to be interred in Kensal Green cemetery;
  • permission for Mr Julien to be the only person to deliver a eulogy at the funeral; and
  • that two separate wakes take place for the deceased, paid for out of her estate.

What next?

The main proceedings will now continue to determine the validity of the will, although the Judge has imposed a stay of proceedings for three months encouraging the parties to consider mediation.


Mr Julien’s application for an emergency injunction was an essential step to prevent the burial, absent cooperation from his daughter and/or the funeral director and the court was clearly persuaded by Mr Julien’s concerns.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the main proceedings – will the parties agree to mediation and if they do, will it work? We will keep you updated.

As ever, these cases are also an important reminder about the importance of validly preparing a will and being clear about what you want to happen to your estate and your funeral wishes. In circumstances where a qualified solicitor prepares a will, there is a greater assumption the will is valid due to solicitors having high professional standards and being officers of the court.

If you intend to challenge a will based on alleged invalidity, it is critical to take legal advice as early as possible and to consider urgent steps to comply with the wishes of the deceased. Please get in touch with our highly experienced Contentious Trusts & Probate team.


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