A BROTHER and sister have been offered the chance to settle a “bitter” family feud over their mother’s will without a further costly High Court case.

John Clitheroe launched an appeal calling for his mother’s two wills to be reinstated after they were struck out by a judge.

His mother Jean Clitheroe, from Clacton, died aged 76 in 2017, leaving most of her £325,000 estate to John.

She had made two wills, but her daughter Susan Bond, from St Osyth, was cut out of both.

Mr Clitheroe started court proceedings to determine if the wills, which included handwritten instructions stating her daughter was “a shopaholic and would just fritter it away”, were valid.

It led to a what judges called a “bitter family dispute”.

Mrs Bond argued the allegations were false and her mother had a complex grief reaction following the death of her eldest daughter, Debra.

The wills were both struck out and Jean was ruled to have died intestate, which meant she died without a valid will and her estate must be split equally.

Mr Clitheroe launched an appeal seeking to overturn the ruling, arguing a 150-year-old inheritance law no longer applied in modern society.

He argued the judge applied the wrong approach for determining whether his mother had capacity to make the wills.

But in a judgment, Mrs Justice Falk said the law has proved to be “sufficiently flexible” to account for developments in the understanding of medical issues.

She rejected a submission that Mental Capacity Act powers should be used to make a declaration as to the validity of a will instead.

Mrs Justice Falk added: “In order to establish whether a delusion exists, the relevant false belief must be irrational and fixed in nature.

“It not an essential part of the test that it is demonstrated it would have been impossible to reason the relevant individual out of the belief if the requisite fixed nature can be demonstrated in another way.”

Most of the appeal was dismissed with the exception of the matter of delusion.

The case has been adjourned for three months to give the parties “an opportunity to reflect on their positions” and to see whether an agreement can be reached without a further hearing.

Nicola Bushby, from Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is a situation nobody wants to be in after the loss of a loved one.

“Our client cared for his mother for many years - he has found the court process to be emotionally exhausting, but strongly believes his mother had mental capacity up until her death.

“Mr Clitheroe stands by the belief the two wills were valid. Experts found no evidence of cognitive impairment.

“The fact that Mr Clitheroe’s mother went to extensive efforts to record her testamentary wishes but they were overturned is of great concern to him.

“This is a matter of testamentary freedom.”