Delay in preparing will – professional negligence

Feltham v Bouskell [2013] EWHC 1952 (Ch) looks very alarming at first sight. A Leicester firm of solicitors was held liable in negligence for failing to prepare a will where there were doubts about the testamentary capacity of the client.

Hazel Charlton (the testatrix) was a wealthy 90-year-old (described as 'feisty' by Charles Hollander QC, sitting as a deputy judge). She had made a number of wills in the past, most recently in 1992, 1997 and 1998. Since at least 1990 the same firm (latterly the same solicitor) had acted for Charlton in relation to her wills and members of the firm were appointed executors. Her step-granddaughter, Lorraine Feltham, was not a beneficiary in any of these wills. The 1998 will left the residue, after some minor legacies to be divided three ways between: Mrs Atkinson, an 83-year-old cousin; Mr Bhangoo, a friend; and her longstanding partner, John.

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