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A woman who had not seen her estranged father for 26 years has been refused a larger bequest from his estate.

Lady Tara Wellesley, the artist daughter of Earl Cowley who died in 2016, had been left £20,000 in her father’s will. The £1.3 million estate provided the four-times married earl’s widow with an income for life, left the bulk of the remainder to the Earl’s heir, the 8th Earl Cowley, and divided the rest between three step-daughters.

The High Court in London heard that Lady Tara and her father had fallen out and she had not spoken to him in 26 years, since her brother Graham’s wedding in 1990. She had asked the court for a greater sum in order to purchase

In his judgment at the High Court in London, Judge John Linwood dismissed Lady Tara’s claim. He said that the late Earl did not consider he had an obligations to his children once they had left home and did not act in any vindictive, malicious or unfair way towards Tara.

As contentious will cases continue to rise, the High Court’s decision underlines the importance of drawing up wills with clarity, says Lucy Atwill of Curtis Whiteford Crocker. Earl Cowley had been married four times, an illustration of the complexity of modern life, and his wishes would have been paramount in drawing up his will.

Under the 1975 Inheritance (Provision of Family and Dependents) Act anyone wishing to contend a will to make an application for financial provision has just six months from the grant of probate to make a claim.

Lucy Atwill heads up the Wills and Probate department of Curtis Whiteford Crocker, with offices in Plymouth, Tavistock and Torpoint. Visit Contentious probate specialist Tony Pearce can be contacted at He has written on the subject and his articles can be found at

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