A college student who plays polo has lost a £ 600,000 legal battle with her aunt over her mother’s will.
Anabel Mattingley, 21, claimed her mother Kim had ceded her property near Maidstone, Kent, to her aunt to protect her from a claim by her ex-husband.
But Ms Mattingley, an undergraduate student in Durham, said her mother, a former JP Morgan banker, had made a dying wish for a share of the £ 600,000 property to be returned to her.
Ms Mattingley told a court her mother created a “secret trust” by asking her aunt, Karen Bugeja, to “look after her” after her death.
She claimed her share of the property, worth around £ 150,000, would be used as a down payment for a house and to buy a horse.
But a London High Court judge has now dismissed Ms Mattingley’s claim, saying the claim was “vague”.
The court also heard that Ms Mattingley’s mother said in the will that she would have “no legal rights” to the property.
She however left the remainder of her mother’s estate under the will, including assets in Switzerland and Spain.
Anabel Mattingley (pictured), 21, claimed her mother Kim ceded her property near Maidstone, Kent, to her aunt to protect her from a claim by her ex-husband
Ms Mattingley told a court her mother set up a ‘secret trust’ by asking her aunt, Karen Bugeja (pictured), to ‘take care of her’ after her death
Ms Mattingley, an undergraduate student in Durham, said her mother, a former JP Morgan banker, had made a dying wish for a share of the £ 600,000 property (pictured) to be returned to her.
The court heard how ex-banker Kim Mattingley left her £ 600,000 home in Kings Hill, near Maidstone, to her sister Karen in her will.
Kim, who moved from Kent to Switzerland and became an alternative therapist, died in 2016 after developing skin cancer, which then spread to other parts of her body.
Anabel, who studies anthropology and French at Durham University, claimed Karen made a legally binding promise to Kim to pass about a quarter of the house’s value to her daughter after her death.
Her lawyers argued that the ex-banker did not leave the inheritance directly to her daughter because she feared her ex-husband would claim it.
Instead, she left it to her sister, but set up a “secret trust” verbally, making sure Karen knew that part of the property would belong to Anabel.
But her aunt challenged the complaint in court, insisting that she never promised to give her niece anything of the property, in which her mother, Joan White, the grandmother of Anabel, still lives.
Ms White moved into Kim’s house after paying off the mortgage for her. And although it remained in Kim’s name, she signed a 25-year lease allowing her mother to live there.
She also gave her sister a 29% share of the value to reflect the money their mother had paid.
But after Kim’s death, Anabel demanded that her aunt give her 26.63% stake in the house.
She claimed Karen betrayed a promise she made to her dying sister by clinging to the property Kim gave her in her will.
A London High Court judge (pictured: The Royal Courts of Justice) has now dismissed Ms Mattingley’s claim, saying the claim was ‘vague’
In the witness box, Anabel told the judge her mother expected her sister to care for her daughter after her death and that she even considered making her Anabel’s legal guardian.
Nicholas Jackson, for Anabel, told Karen in the witness stand: “You agreed you would keep this for Anabel. Your sister trusted you to do the right thing.
But Karen, fighting the property claim, told the judge she wanted to protect her and Joan from Kim’s mother who still lives in the house.
“In the will, she left the house to me,” she said.
“My sister and I considered it to be our mother’s house. Anabel told me it was her house.
“I’m fighting this because I didn’t think my sister would have told me that I was legally obligated to give Anabel a share of a property my mother lives in.”
Supporting Karen in his judgment, Judge Davis-White said: “The gist of Anabel’s testimony was that her mother told her that she would receive ‘part’ of the English property and that Karen ‘would look after her. ‘she “.
“Her mom trusted Karen to do it. I think Kim wanted to reassure her 16 year old daughter that after her death, Anabel would be supported financially and otherwise by her aunt, Karen.
“The most that was said when Karen was in the room was that Karen would take care of Anabel, on the most general terms.
“I find that at most Kim wanted, without imposing any obligations or extracting any promises from Karen, that Karen would give Kim something derived from the property.”
“The fact that there was no obligation is reflected in the vagueness of what was promised.”
The judge said the “vague” wishes expressed by Kim were “fatal” to her daughter’s claim that a secret trust had been established.
Anabel, who studies anthropology and French at Durham University (pictured), claimed Karen made a legally binding promise to Kim to pass around a quarter of the house’s value to her daughter after her death
Kim’s will had “clearly expressed the position that Anabel would have no legal right to Kim’s beneficial interest – or part of it – in the property,” he said.
“I am also not convinced by the evidence that Karen made any promise, express or implied, that she would definitely treat the property or its product in a certain way in order to give Anabel an interest in the same after the death of Mrs. White.
“It follows that the claim must be dismissed,” the judge said, awarding the aunt the win and leaving Anabel with a hefty bill in legal fees as the loser in the bout.
He added that Karen had said that once her mother left home and her care expenses were covered, she would consider passing some of the value to Anabel, but that it would be a discretionary choice on her part, rather than Anabel’s. legal right.
The issue of costs will be dealt with at another hearing if it is not agreed.