Daughter sues over proceeds of will

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The Independent Online

A daughter took her father to the High Court today over a Georgian property on the seafront at Cowes left to the family in a will.

Anna Jeffery, who received a third of the profits from the £885,000 sale price of the five-bedroom home, is claiming her father, Denis Gretton, breached his duties as a trustee and she should have another £165,000.

The deputy judge hearing the case in London, Leslie Blohm QC, was told there had been "a serious breakdown in relations" between Mrs Jeffery and her parents, who claim she is motivated by "greed and vindictiveness".

Her claim is over Townshend House on The Parade which was left in equal shares to her, her father, and brother Nicholas Gretton, by her grandmother Paula Beken, who died in 2001.

Under the terms of the 1992 will, Mrs Beken's husband, Keith, would have use of the house during his lifetime.

Anna Clarke, representing her, told the judge when she heard in May 2007 that Mr Beken had died in February that year she made inquiries about when she would receive her inheritance.

"Those inquiries were made in the context of what was a serious breakdown in relations between herself and her parents," he said.

"That fact may have caused the failure of the defendants to advise Mrs Jeffery that Keith Beken had died."

Miss Clarke said her client then found out from solicitors dealing with the estate that Mr Beken had signed a deed of variation to the will in 2002 giving up his lifetime use of the house.

She said the three beneficiaries were then automatically entitled to their share of the sale proceeds of the house or to income from renting it out, but the executors and trustees failed in their duty.

"They failed to get any income from it in the period from the date of the deed of variation to the sale of the house in 2008."

Miss Clarke said the defendants say Mrs Jeffery knew about the deed of variation and had agreed to it and knew the sale of the house was being postponed while her parents renovated it.

Mrs Jeffery was told by solicitors that Townshend House was being left vacant because it was "unlettable" without renovation which the parents were carrying out when time and money permitted.

Miss Clarke said the parents believe the daughter's court action was "motivated by greed and vindictiveness".

Mrs Jeffery's claims include £30,000 for loss of rental income and £91,000 for reduction in sale proceeds.