Sibling court battle over £20 million inheritance

Will, pen and bookletThe children of a celebrated interior designer are embroiled in a legal battle over his £20 million fortune, following his death aged 92, in 2013.

Michael Inchbald – who worked on the QE2, Claridge’s and the Savoy Hotel – save for some small gifts, split his estate equally between his two children, son Courtenay and daughter Amanda, in his final Will.

That Will was made in 2007, but a Will written in 2005 had given Courtenay half the estate with the other half held on trust for Amanda for life. Under the 2005 Will, Amanda would have received an income from a sum of around £10 million and upon her death the capital would have passed to her brother or his heirs.

Courtenay insists the 2005 Will accurately represents his late father’s last wishes, claiming he did not want Amanda to have full access to the money for fear that she would be unable to ‘deal with it’. Courtenay’s barrister, Richard Wilson QC, argued that the change from a life interest trust to an absolute bequest in 2007 was made when Mr Inchbald was suffering from dementia, and Mr Inchbald did not ‘know or approve of’ the contents of the new Will.

Amanda’s barrister, Peter John, told the High Court that the 2007 Will mirrored one Mr Inchbald had made in 1997, and that there ‘is nothing sinister or unusual’ in making a Will ‘which brings equality to both his offspring’.

Amanda told the court she had never spoken to her late father about his financial affairs or his Will, describing him as ‘very particular’ and someone who ‘wouldn’t be pushed around by anyone’.

The hearing continues.

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