A police officer went to legal war after his 82-year-old mother changed her will months before her death, leaving everything to his brother.
Timothy McCabe, 49, had a close and loving relationship with his mother, Mary McCabe, from Rutland, and could not believe it when she disinherited him.
He fought an epic battle at London’s High Court against his brother, Stephen, 52, insisting that their mother’s final will, signed in April 2011, was invalid.
However, following an enormously costly 11-day hearing, a top judge has ruled that the will reflected Mrs McCabe’s true wishes.
Judge Jeremy Cousins QC said the brothers’ relationship had already been a difficult one long before their mother died.
Each accused the other of having “bad motives” and there was “a climate of mutual distrust, suspicion and hostility” between them. Their mother, who had survived breast cancer and lived in Wensum Close, Oakham, had found herself confronted with the “widening rift” between her sons.
She found it very difficult to cope with their “outright hostility” towards each other, said the judge.
Widowed Mrs McCabe, who lost her husband to cancer in 2001, made a will in 2007, leaving almost everything she had to her sons equally.
But in April 2011, just seven months before she died, she signed a new one, leaving everything to pharmaceuticals company executive Stephen, of Harrow, North London.
Timothy, who lived near his mother, claimed the document had not been properly witnessed and that she lacked the mental capacity to make a valid will. A police officer with more than 25 years’ experience, he also argued she did not “know and approve” of the will’s contents.
Judge Cousins said that, for years after his father’s death, Timothy had visited his mum almost daily, taking her shopping and helping her to look after her home.
They had a loving relationship and she joined father-of-three Timothy for family meals every weekend.
The judge said that, by 2009, there was no doubt that Mrs McCabe was suffering from ‘cognitive impairment’.
She developed a belief that Timothy had initiated a police investigation into her finances, and Stephen’s involvement with them, without her agreement or authority.
But the judge said that belief was “not irrational or deluded” and provided the motive for her decision to disinherit Timothy.
The will had been properly executed after Mrs McCabe took legal advice and had been declared capable by a doctor.
The judge concluded at the end of a 170-page decision: “Despite a long trial, none of the challenges to the last will of Mrs McCabe has succeeded”.