Inheritance dispute compared to Bleak House

Published 10 Oct 2013

An ongoing inheritance dispute between members of a family in the UK has been compared to the legal proceedings endured by characters in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.

Romana Ross, owner of Romana’s Cafe in County Durham, died five years ago and her three middle-aged children are now arguing over who should receive what from her estate.

However, according to the Northern Echo newspaper, High Court Judge John Behrens has warned the trio that they risk losing everything through costs if they continue with their inheritance dispute.

He said it is a “great pity” that the three – Gianna, Lorenzo and Diana – are not willing to compromise, likening it to the litigants in Bleak House, who lost the whole estate by the end of the novel.

Mrs Ross and her husband Antonio moved to Britain from Italy 56 years ago, although they separated in 1978.

When she died in July 2008, her estate included the cafe, a home in Kensington Gardens and a flat in Osborne Terrace, as well as a plot of land in Italy.

The total value, after liabilities, was estimated to be around £300,000 – but infighting between the siblings has seen this dwindle to just £100,000.

This sum is too small to meet all of the bequests Mrs Ross made.

Assets involved in the inheritance dispute

The home in Kensington Gardens was valued at £125,000 when Mrs Ross passed away, but had recently been repossessed and only provided £45,000 when sold.

Lorenzo currently runs the cafe, having worked at the establishment since 1978, while Diana lived with her mother until her 30s and inherited one of the properties.

Judge Behrens gave a detailed ruling on how the estate should be distributed, but confirmed the administration element is “by no means finalised”.

He said: “It is, to my mind, a great pity that they were not able to reach an agreement.

“Apart from other factors, it means that substantial costs have been incurred in these proceedings which will further diminish the estate.”

Contesting a will

If you have an inheritance dispute a little closer to home, then contesting wills lawyers in NSW can help you to bring an end to an ongoing feud.

There are various factors involved when contesting a will, which could mean you are entitled to more of the deceased’s estate than was originally provided.

Consulting with a no-win, no-fee lawyer can also protect the estate from being eaten up by costly and ongoing legal fees.

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