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Wills and probate solicitor news – Baronet wins estate claim

02nd February 2012

The baronet, Sir John Howard-Lawson, who did not instruct wills and probate solicitors but instead represented himself, inherited the historic Cumbrian Corby Castle in 1962. However, he then sold the property for £2.5 million in 1994.

Sir John received notice of a claim from wills and probate solicitors representing his son, Philip Howard, who argued that he was entitled to a share of the proceeds from the sale of the house, which had been home to the Howard family for four centuries.

Philip Howard’s legal team argued that the baronet had failed to uphold the archaic terms of a will executed by his great-grandfather Philip John Canning Howard. Under the terms of the will it was a condition of entitlement that all future heirs adopt the Howard name and coat of arms.

Ironically, the baronet’s own father had failed to uphold this condition, which led to Sir John becoming life-long tenant in his place in 1961.

Philip went to the Court of Appeal after losing an earlier case at the England & Wales High Court. However, he now plans to take his case to the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeal ruled in Sir John’s favour and awarded him £23,000 costs, even though he had not instructed solicitors. 

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