Ignoring Advice Not Path to Success

There really is little point in instructing lawyers to represent you if you do not then listen to their advice. In one case which illustrates this, two women dispensed with the services of not just one but two legal teams, after they were advised to discontinue their legal fight, and persisted in mounting an utterly pointless challenge to a matriarch's will.

The women were the daughter and granddaughter of the deceased woman, whose will divided her property equally between her 12 children. The two women had lived with her and were determined to stay in her home after her death and to pay no rent. They objected when the executor of the estate launched proceedings to take possession of the property so that it could be sold and the proceeds divided among the beneficiaries.

The women challenged the will's validity on a wide variety of grounds and argued that it had not made reasonable provision for them. However, they ultimately put their signatures to a settlement, whereby they agreed to withdraw their claims on the basis that their costs would be paid from the estate. They also agreed that they would not defend the possession action.

Notwithstanding the settlement, the women continued to resist attempts to move them out of the home and made numerous wild and scurrilous allegations against solicitors and barristers whom they had previously dismissed. The High Court noted that those allegations appeared either baseless or irrelevant to the issues in the case.

In granting the orders sought by the executor, the Court observed that, even had the women's challenge to the will succeeded, it would not have made one iota of difference to their position. Had the woman died intestate, her property, including her home, would still have passed in equal shares to her children. The women were bound by the terms of the settlement and, by remaining in the property rent free, they had perpetrated a great injustice on the other beneficiaries of the will.