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 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:
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.
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:
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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