A family in North Wales have won an inheritance dispute over large areas of farmland on Anglesey, marking an end to what the judge described as a “difficult and sad case.”
Solicitors at top 100 UK law firm, Hugh James successfully contested the third and final will of Evan Hughes, who died in March 2017, at the age of 84, arguing that he lacked the mental capacity needed to make a valid will. This is despite it being drawn up by a Solicitor at the time, and Evan passing a mental capacity assessment by a GP.
By the time of his death, Evan owned substantial assets – including a bungalow, a cottage, 79 acres of farmland known as Bwchanan and 58 acres of farmland known as Yr Efail. He was also an equal shareholder in the building company, J. Parry & Hughes Ltd, which he had at one time jointly owned with his cousin.
Evan had three children: Elfed, Carys and Gareth. In two previous wills, written in 1990 and 2005, Evan had gifted the entire Yr Efail farmland to his eldest son Elfed. Elfed farmed his father’s farmland, looking after his cattle together with his own farm. He worked incredibly long hours on the farms, relying on the well-known understanding, communicated by Evan to the family and wider community that, on Evan’s death, his shares in the building company would be left to his two other children, Gareth and Carys, equally and the farmland would be left to his son Elfed.
However, in September 2015, Elfed became depressed and took his own life. This had a devastating effect on his family, including his father. Evan was hospitalised three months later with gastrointestinal bleeding and subsequent tests found evidence of an old stroke and damage to the small sized blood vessels of the brain.
Despite this, in March 2016, Evan’s son Gareth took him to a local firm of solicitors to make a new will. The main change from the 2005 will was to leave Yr Efail to Gareth and the remainder of the farmland to Elfed’s widow, Gwen. On her death, this would then pass to her three sons, Stephen, Geraint and Sion equally.
A GP saw Evan in June 2016 and determined that he had capacity to make changes to his will. However, this point became a key factor and, following his death, prompted Elfed’swidow and eldest son, Stephen, to approach Hugh James to act on their behalf, to dispute the will and reclaim the farmland promised to Elfed by Evan in exchange for his many years of hard work.