Jon Campbell-Vercarto, pictured with his wife Julie, is fighting the Catholic church over his mother’s estate. He says she was not in a sound enough state of mind to change her will late in life
A son is taking legal action after his ‘vulnerable’ mother left her entire estate to her church, having changed her will with just months to live.
Carmela Vencato, 82, changed her will shortly before she died, bequeathing her entire £250,000 estate to St James the Less and St Helen Catholic Church in Colchester.
But the pensioner’s only son, Jon Campbell-Vercarto, claims his mother was not of sound mind when she altered her will before her death last month.
He is arguing that his mother struggled with English, had a long history of illness including a stroke and could not understand her finances.
Father-of-two Mr Campbell-Vercarto, 58, was not told about the changes, made in November 2018, and initially hoped a compromise could be found with the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood.
He said: ‘My mother had a history of illness over the years compounded by a stroke, which left her in poor health and vulnerable whereshe needed care and close supervision.
‘Her personal finances were in a muddle, she struggled with written English, could barely write and police records of two incidents at her home witnessed by neighbours clearly underlines she was not in a correct state of mind to make important decisions.’
As it stands, the church stand to get all of the £250,000 from her house in Colchester
Mr Campbell-Vercarto, a devout Roman Catholic, has held discussions with the church to try and come to an arrangement where he and his family, which includes his two disabled sons, Adam, 26, and Nicollas, 24, were able to share his mother’s estate.
The RAF veteran offered a 50/50 split of the estate but has been told that he will be getting nothing.
He is planning a legal challenge which could question the thoroughness of testing of Mrs Vencato’s state of mind ahead of the changes to her will.
Mr Campbell-Vercarto, who is married to Julie, 54, had regular contact with his mother and insisted their relationship was strong.
The IT worker said he had also helped her when she was struggling with poor health – including after a severe stroke.
‘My mum had mental health problems for years. She wasn’t of a fit state of mind when she changed her will,’ he said.
He believes the church’s clergy wouldn’t even recognise his mother.
Mr Campbell-Vercarto believes his mother intended to leave her house to his sons, both of whom have disabilities
Mr Campbell-Vercarto fears he is facing an uphill challenge to win the legal battle against the might of the Catholic church and its unlimited funds.
Italian born Mrs Vencato was a widow and her respected chef husband, Gelindo, died 10 years ago, aged 75.
Her son believes she had wanted to leave her Colchester home to her grandsons, who will both need financial support throughout their adult lives as they can’t live independently.
A spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood said: ‘The diocese appreciates that this is a difficult time for Mr Vencarto and his family.
‘However, based on legal advice we have received from the diocesan solicitors, as a charity, our hands are tied.
‘Any payment under a deed of variation would be deemed an ex-gratia payment, and the trustee would need to obtain authorisation from the Charity Commission in order to enter into any such deed.
‘We understand that Mr Vencarto is going to instruct lawyers and, we have offered, if it would be helpful, to put the diocesan solicitors in contact with Mr Vencarto’s lawyers, so that they can explain the constraints that the trustee is operating under, and the respective legal issues.’
St James the Less and St Helen Catholic Church in Colchester. The church says its lawyers say it is entitled Mrs Vencato’s full estate