Widow fights stepsons in court over estate inheritance

A widow who is claiming that her stepsons are trying to cut her out of her late husband’s estate has taken them to court. The widow, Ailsa Williamson Powell, was left half of late husband David’s £250,000 estate when he died aged 84 in 2012.

Mr Powell split the other half between the sons from his first marriage, Richard and Jonathan, in a final Will signed in 2009. The brothers claim that their father was too ill from Parkinson’s Disease to understand the changes to his Will, according to an article in the Evening Standard.

The brothers argue that their stepmother is entitled to just £2,000 from their late father’s fortune and claim that she was the driving force behind his Will changes.

Mark Dencer, representing the widow, said it was “inexplicable” that the brothers have taken the case to court. “This is not a case of genuine concerns reasonably maintained, but of attempted self-enrichment should the widow lack the stomach or means to fight,” he said.

Mr Powell signed his first Will soon after marrying Ailsa, which left his sons the bulk of his estate, with only £2,000 for his new wife. But he made a second Will in 2008, splitting the estate three ways, and then a third Will in 2009, giving half to his wife, a quarter each to his sons and small gifts to a church, a Parkinson’s charity and his grandchildren.

Noel Dilworth, for the brothers, argued that there was nothing to prompt the third Will, 18 months after the second, which increased his wife’s share of the money.  “It is clear that it was Mrs Williamson Powell who had driven the process for revision of the will in 2009,” he said.

Mr Powell’s solicitor had recorded that the motive for changing the Will was his wife’s suggestion of increasing her share because “she was spending a great deal of time and effort in looking after him”, said Mr Dilworth.

However, Mr Dencer told the court there was “nothing unusual” in the 2009 Will, which he said “reflects how affection, bonds and obligations deepen over time”.

The hearing continues.

Wills & Trusts Barrister - myBarrister