A devoted daughter who cared for her elderly mother until her death has won an eight-year million-pound inheritance battle against her three brothers in a landmark legal ruling that lawyers say will better protect others from “anyone who comes out of nothing and expect quick money’.
Rita Rea, 61, said she feared she would become “homeless and bankrupt” after her siblings claimed she had pressured their mother Anna to write a new will leaving her their £1million London home. only to her.
The High Court found that the siblings had been disinherited because they had “abandoned” their mother and had barely helped with her care, while Rita had moved into her mother’s home to care for her.
Brothers Remo, Nino and David first took legal action after their mother Anna died in 2016 at the age of 85.
But the Court of Appeal finally ruled on Friday that Rita had not put her mother under undue influence to sign over all her property to her.
Devoted daughter Rita Rea (left), who cared for her elderly mother Anna (right) until her death, has won an eight-year £1 million inheritance battle against her three brothers in a landmark legal ruling.
David (pictured) and brothers Remo and Nino first took legal action after their mother Anna died in 2016 at the age of 85.
The Court of Appeal finally ruled on Friday that Rita had not put her mother under undue influence to give her all her property (pictured: the two together in the late 1980s).
Rita Rea, 61, said she feared she would become “homeless and bankrupt” after a legal battle with her brothers.
The High Court found that the brothers had been disinherited because they had “abandoned” their mother and had barely helped with her care, while Rita had moved into her mother’s house to care for her.
The judges ruled that such cases were typically “inherently improbable,” which Rea’s lawyers say will protect people from accusations of wrongdoing by disinherited relatives in the future.
Last night, Rea said her brothers had put her through “years of hell” over the “scandalous” claims.
Mrs Rea, a former tennis coach, owes her lawyers more than £280,000 in legal fees.
But his brothers will likely be ordered to foot the bill.
His lawyer, Paul Britton, said the ruling was “a good day for those who are there to help their loved ones at the end of life, and a bad day for anyone who comes out of the woodwork and expects quick money.”
The case began in 2016 when the Rea brothers claimed that their sister had pressured their mother to draft the new will a year before her death.
Their arguments were rejected and Rita won.
The siblings successfully appealed on a technicality and won a new trial in July 2023, with a High Court judge ruling that Rita had “forced” her mother to exclude her children from the will.
Mrs Rea said her brothers had put her through “years of hell” over the “scandalous” claims.
Rea’s lawyers (including Paul Britton, pictured left) said the ruling will protect people from allegations of wrongdoing by disinherited relatives in the future.
Miss Rea’s brothers claimed she had pressured their mother Anna (pictured in the 1950s) to write a new will leaving their £1m London home to her alone.
A new trial in 2023 meant the estate would be divided four ways between the four siblings, as provided in the 1986 will (pictured: Rita’s brother Nino with their mother Anna).
Ms Rea’s brothers (including Remo Rea, pictured, outside the High Court) could not be reached for comment.
This decision meant that the estate would be divided into four parts, as provided in the 1986 will.
Rita, whose costs were estimated at £150,000 even before the retrial, almost saw her share completely wiped out by bills from the long-running case.
Making the decision in 2023, Judge David Hodge KC said the evidence suggested Rita had exerted “undue influence” on her fragile mother to the point that she had “overpowered herself”.
“Firstly, there is Anna’s fragility and vulnerability,” he told his judgement. ‘Being wheelchair-bound, hard of hearing and requiring constant care and attention, Anna’s quality of life was limited.
‘He seemed to spend much of his life coloring children’s books. This must be contrasted with what I consider to be Rita’s forceful and argumentative personality, and her forceful physical presence.’
After being given 21 days to challenge the decision at the Court of Appeal, it was Miss Rea’s turn to appeal, leading to last week’s landmark decision by Justices Newey, Moylan and Arnold unanimously to your favor.
They decided that the previous judge had been wrong to suspect that Rita pressured her mother only because she had a “forceful personality” and a “physical presence.”
They also said that the fact that the mother was dependent on her daughter did not make the change of will suspicious.
Rea’s siblings could not be reached for comment.