'Unwanted' son claims share of late father's estate from niece

The son of a car and property magnate has successfully sued his niece to gain a share of his late father’s estate and avoid becoming homeless. 

Colin Johnston was the son of Sidney Johnston, who died in 2017 leaving a £2.4 million estate to Colin’s niece, Lady Natalie Wackett. 

The father and son had fallen out in 1992 after a breakdown of their business partnership. 

Colin challenged the will, stating that he was financially dependent on receiving a pay-out from his late father’s estate. 

A judge ruled in 2019 that Colin should receive a £175,000 lump sum, adding that the father’s decision to omit his son from his will was “inexplicable”. 

Lady Wackett claimed that the sum should be significantly reduced because Colin had debts to his father amounting to around £100,000 from the time of the breakdown of their business relationship. 

Colin argued that any reduction to his share of the estate could result in him being made homeless. 

He also told the court that his parents had always held a resentment towards him, after he was conceived during the Second World War while his father was serving in the RAF. 

He claimed his mother had told him from a young age that: “I would have been a Hollywood star if it wasn’t for you.” 

The parents always favoured his siblings according to Colin and bought manorial titles for all of them except him. 

Lady Wackett claimed Colin deserved nothing from the estate after he ungratefully turned his back on his parents years ago. 

The judge ruled in favour of Colin Johnston. 

He noted that Lady Wackett had been an “honest and truthful witness” but she also exhibited a “great deal of hostility towards Colin”. 

Previous court hearings had settled that there was nothing owed to his father by Colin from the breakdown of their business relationship. Therefore, it would be unfair to reduce his share of the family estate now. 

Lady Wackett was ordered to pay Colin the full £175,000 from the inheritance. 

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of inheritance law and wills and probate. 

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