Solicitor’s pet uncovers curious will that dismisses copy-cat claim in court

You couldn’t make it up, but it seems that a mischievous moggy was solely responsible for unravelling a mystery and helped solve a family feud over a £2m will battle.

Venetia Murray had owned a farm in Hertfordshire, along with her two brothers, Dale and Dean Brunt. After Dean tragically passed away following an accident in 2007, it was believed he had left no will and therefore, his share of the farm, worth £2m was passed to his mother, Marlene Brunt.

However, in 1999, Venetia discovered that her deceased brother had made two wills - one of which outlined his intentions to give her half of his wealth upon his death. This mysterious will was found after Dean’s solicitor’s cat had knocked over a pile of papers.

Not only was this a strange coincidence, but this pile of papers were also destined for the shredder.

It’s hardly surprising that during the hearing in court, Dale Brunt and his mother Marlene alleged that the wills were a hoax and part of an elaborate scam, where a will had been copied and forged so that beneficiaries could be changed in favour of Venetia.

But, the Judge rejected these claims and was satisfied that the will was legitimate and had been signed by Dean himself before his untimely death. Lawyers even said that the will provided “crucial evidence” of Dean’s intentions to give his sister half his wealth and the court ruled in Venetia’s favour.

The judge ruled that Dean’s estate should be divided as per the two wills made in 1999, splitting his share of the farm equally between his siblings and his mother Marlene.

The weird and wonderful stories like these may seem like a whim, but we do quite often come across cases such as these in our line of work.

It really is so important to keep all documents, such as wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney up to date. It is also important to make sure you keep communication channels open with your family. Make sure they are aware of your wishes and make sure they are clear - as this could save heartache in the long term.

If you would like some further advice relating to your will, or you’d like to draft or update one, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.


Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking

Email: l.dalgetty@downslaw.co.uk