Scrap of paper in mum’s handbag ruled valid will

Lord Doherty. Picture: contributed

Lord Doherty. Picture: contributed

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AN Edinburgh primary school teacher has persuaded a judge that a damaged scrap of paper which came from her mum’s handbag is a valid will.

Lesley Jollie, 46, claimed that after a formal will had been drawn up her mother had second thoughts which she expressed in the pencil-written document.

Her story was backed by a former neighbour who had signed and witnessed the new will for her friend.

Ms Jollie of Juniper Green, raised an action at the Court of Session – where her step-dad John Lennie, 71, disputed her claim.

Judge Lord Doherty was told that Ms Jollie’s mum, Margaret – who used the surname Lennie after her second marriage – became worried that Mr Lennie’s children were being better treated than her own.

She was particularly concerned that they might not get their fair share of the home in Barnton, Edinburgh, which she shared with her new husband.

Mrs Jollie or Lennie died in March 2010 aged 70.

Her daughter described how, some five years earlier, she had visited her mother as she was about to take a short holiday in Tenerife. Ms Jollie wanted to know if there were any clothes in the house she might want to take with her.

She told how her mother said she was “not very happy about things” and wanted to make sure that her children were all right, because they were important to her. Her mother also said she wasn’t sure about a will which had been drawn up by professional will writers. She then took her handbag out of a wardrobe and took out a piece of paper, putting her fingers to her lips when Ms Jollie asked what it was.

The A5 sheet of letter paper was folded into quarters and seemed new. Ms Jollie said she tucked it into her own handbag and didn’t look at it until the following day.

When she read it she put it back into her own handbag as “a safe place” and carried it round for a couple of years until the bag was worn out.

The paper then went into a filing cabinet.

Ms Jollie told the court that when her mother died she hadn’t expected to receive anything except her rings until Mr Lennie died. She was also seven months pregnant at the time. But months later she got a lawyer’s letter asking if she would sign an agreement that her mother’s whole estate should go to Mr Lennie. When she looked at the formal will, dating back to October 2004, she became distressed because it didn’t include clauses she had expected and set about looking for the paper her mother had given her. Ms Jollie found the torn and damaged piece of paper in November 2011. The pencil handwriting bequeathed her rings and other jewellery and also said: “My share of the house to be passed to my children.”

A further hearing is likely to decide the next move now that Lord Roherty has ruled that the paper from Mrs Jollie’s handbag is genuine.