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Court ruling sees family miss out on £3M inheritance

18 June 2024

A court ruling has seen a family miss out on a £3 million inheritance following a text message between the testator and his will writer.

In a recent High Court ruling, it was decided that a text message sent by Al-Hasib Mian Muhammad Abdullah al-Mahmood to his will writer was sufficient to alter his will. This resulted in his brother-in-law and nieces not inheriting an estate worth approximately £3 million.

Mr Mahmood had previously drawn up a will in 2015, leaving his assets to his brother-in-law and his brother-in-law’s children. However, over the years, he became increasingly distant from those relatives and the court heard how Mr Mahmood felt that they did not visit him.

In around 2011, Masudur Rahman – a relative of Mr Mahmood from Bangladesh – began visiting Mr Mahmood whilst he was studying in the UK. Mr Rahman would regularly meet with Mr Mahmood and his wife at their home in Mitcham, south London which led to a close relationship forming between them. Mr Mahmood supported Mr Rahman by attending his graduation ceremony in 2015, and even referred to Mr Rahman as his son, the court heard.

Following the death of his wife in 2020, Mr Mahmood had discussions with Mr Rahman regarding his assets and details of how to access them, providing him with account numbers and passwords. He also invited Mr Rahman to his home to go through paperwork with him. Mr Mahmood then contacted a professional will writer with instructions to prepare a new a will that would leave everything to Rahman. The will, however, was never completed.

In October of the same year, Mr Mahmood sent a text message to his will writer revoking his previous wills, stating that Mr Rahman would be the owner of all of his assets and the executor of his new will.

Upon his death, Mr Mahmood’s brother-in-law disputed the validity of the texts and sought to implement his 2015 will. However, HHJ Paul Matthews dismissed these concerns and found that the text messages were genuine, resulting in Mr Rahman inheriting Mr Mahmood’s £3 million estate.

The principle of testamentary freedom means that a person may leave their estate to whoever they wish. However, that is not an absolute and it is capable of being challenged. If you suspect that a will may be invalid, you can seek to challenge a will on that basis.

You may be able to contest things on the basis of invalidity if you believe or have concerns that a person’s will:

  • does not reflect their true wishes
  • was made when they lacked mental capacity
  • was made following coercion, you may be able to contest it on the basis of invalidity.

Our specialist team can help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or queries.

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Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
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Simon Arneaud LLB (Hons)
Senior associate, solicitor
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