Self-proclaimed Lord says his mother left him her £300,000 house so he could look after her PARROTS as rest of family sues him in bitter court fight
- A man is being sued by his half-siblings after his mother wrote them out of will
- Lord Brett McLean says his mum left him her home to look after her parrots
- He says letters from his parents about equally sharing inheritance are fake
A self-styled lord who says his mother changed her will and left him her £300,000 home so that he could look after her parrots, is being sued by his three half-siblings for their share of the inheritance.
Train driver Ian McLean, 61 and his two siblings were completely cut out when their dead father Reginald’s second wife Maureen changed her will in 2019, leaving all the couple’s wealth to her biological son Lord Brett McLean.
Reginald and Maureen had previously made wills in 2017 splitting all their wealth equally between their son Brett, who goes by the title Lord of Hastings, and his half-siblings from Reginald’s first marriage: Ian, ex-squaddie Sean McLean and their sister Lorraine Pomeroy.
But following Reginald’s death, Maureen changed her will, cutting out all her stepchildren and leaving everything to her titled son, who describes himself online as ‘chairman, consultant, patron, trustee and president of national, regional and local business, charitable and voluntary organisations’.
Brett argues that the letters his half-siblings say prove the dead couple agreed to share their money equally between all four children are fake.
If the 47-year-old loses the case he will not only face losing his home but also having to pay a bill for back rent by his half-siblings for the time he has spent living in the house.
Self-proclaimed Lord Brett McLean, 47, (pictured outside Central London County Court) says his mother gave him her £300,000 home in Sussex to continue looking after her two parrots
Ian McLean, who slammed Brett as ‘pretentious’, and his two siblings are arguing they are all entitled to an equal share of the inheritance as parents Reginald and Maureen made mirrored wills in 2017 stating this was their wish
Maureen McLean changed her will in 2019 following her husband’s death, she left her home (pictured) to her biological son Brett McLean – writing out her three step-children
Reginald and Maureen McLean (2nd left and centre) planned to share their estate equally among their children, but after Reginald’s death Maureen left it all to her son Lord Brett McLean (2nd right)
Central London County Court heard that Reginald left his first wife and their three children in the 1960s and later got together with Maureen, with their son Brett being born around a decade later.
Brett – whose title of lord he says was given to him by a friend he worked at a council with – was living in the family house when his parents died and it is still currently his home.
The house forms the bulk of the wealth the couple left behind, with similar properties in the road having sold recently for between £300,000 and £400,000.
Lord Brett claims his mother left him the house in Seaside Road, St Leonards, East Sussex, so that he could continue to provide care for her green Amazonian orange winged parrot and orange jenday (parakeet).
But in 2017, the half-siblings say, Reginald and Maureen drew up wills and then sent letters to all the children, stating that the house and the rest of their joint estate would be shared equally between all four.
Guy Holland, for the half-siblings, told Recorder Graeme Robertson: ‘Reginald and Maureen executed mirror wills. The claimants allege they were also mutual in nature with Reginald and Maureen expressly agreeing that neither would revoke or alter the terms of the wills made.
‘The claimants rely upon the evidence of the solicitor who drafted the wills…and undated letters confirming their intention not to alter the terms of their wills.
‘Reginald died without altering his will.
‘Following Reginald’s death, Maureen executed a new will…disinheriting the claimant stepchildren and leaving her entire estate to her biological child, the defendant.
‘The claimants claim a declaration that Maureen’s estate is held on trust for themselves and the defendant in equal shares in accordance with the terms of the mutual wills and consequential direction about sale of the property forming the majority of the estate, where the defendant is currently residing.’
Lord Brett describes himself online as ‘chairman, consultant, patron, trustee and president of national, regional and local business, charitable and voluntary organisations’ (pictured with former PM David Cameron)
Brett claims that signed letters from his parents in 2017 indicating that their estate is to be shared between all four children equally are ‘faux’
Lord Brett, however, argues that the letters of intent are not ‘genuine’ and that the mirror wills they executed in 2017 may have been invalid due to Reginald having dementia and Maureen having been subject to ‘undue influence’.
He told the court in his written submissions: ‘The defendant’s mother left her entire estate to her only biological son – the defendant – so that he can continue to provide care for her green Amazonian orange-winged parrot and yellow and orange jenday (parakeet) and to continue providing housing for her son, as she knew the claimants all owned their own properties and would benefit from their mother’s will when the time arrives, and because her son did not have a property or a family because he had devoted his life to caring for his parents as he felt morally duty bound to do so.
‘The defendant’s mother left her entire estate to her only living dependant so he would have shelter and a place to live whilst remaining a caretaker to her parrot and jenday. She would be able to continue providing for and protecting her son after she was gone.
‘The defendant and his parents had extremely limited contact with the claimants during a 45 year period,’ he added.
Mr Holland insisted that there is no evidence the letters of intent were anything but genuine, telling the judge: ‘In 2018, all of the claimants received copies of typed letters in the post from Maureen and Reginald, referring to the fact that they had changed their wills and were not intending to make any further changes.’
Brett says he was given his mother’s entire estate to continue looking after her parrots, an Amazonian orange-winged parrot and a parakeet (stock image of parakeets)
The letters stated: ‘We met with a professional legal firm almost a year ago and left a will that represents our wishes. With our health as it is now, we wouldn’t feel confident to change anything, but equally feel very happy with what we have done.
‘We’re very proud of you and your families and hope that what we have been able to do will give each of you, and your children and grandchildren, something to enjoy.’
The barrister said: ‘The body of the letters is typed but they are signed in manuscript script ‘Mum and Dad’ and manuscript names at the top. Ian has retained the envelope in which his letter was received that includes manuscript address and sender address.
‘The defendant…questions the veracity of the letters, describing them as being ‘faux’ documents – however, he declined the opportunity to obtain expert evidence in relation to the manuscript writing and whether or not it was that of Reginald or Maureen.
‘There is simply no evidence before the court in support of the assertion that the letters are some sort of fraud.
‘It is apparent and should be inferred from the facts of this case that there was a contractual arrangement, whether express or implied, between Reginald and Maureen to the effect that neither would later change their will without informing the other or following the death of the other,’ he concluded.
Lord Brett told the judge that there was ‘clear evidence’ that his father had been suffering from advanced dementia at the time the disputed wills were made.
He also claimed that his brother Ian was not close to his father and had seldom visited.
Ian, of Cudham, near Sevenoaks, Kent, replying in the witness box, told him ‘that’s not fair,’ claiming that he visited often when his half-brother Brett was not there.
Brett also claimed Ian was not close to Maureen or to himself.
But Ian replied: ‘Our father left my mother when I was three. You are about 14 years younger than me. When you were a baby I was out making a life for myself.’
Ian also slammed his half-brother as ‘pretentious,’ citing as an example a letter of complaint to the local council – which Brett says his mother penned – which refers to the family home as a ‘desirable residence’.
‘I believe you wrote that letter,’ said Ian. ‘You are the only person who would be pretentious enough to call that house a ‘desirable residence’.’
The court also heard that, should he lose the case, Lord Brett, who is representing himself, will not only face losing his home but also being handed a bill for back rent by his half-siblings for the time he has spent living in the house.
The trial continues.