THE son of a woman who changed her will months before she died leaving her entire £250,000 estate to a church is planning a legal challenge - saying she wasn’t of sound mind.

Carmela Vencato, 82, died in May.

Soon afterwards, her son Jon Campbell-Vencarto discovered she had left all of her assets to the Diocese of Brentwood – and more specifically St James the Less and St Helen Catholic Church in Priory Street, Colchester.

Despite being her next of kin as her only surviving child, Mr Campbell-Vencarto , 58, was not told about the changes made in November and does not believe she was in the right mental state to make such a decision,.

He said: “My mother had a history of illness over the years compounded by a stroke, which left her in poor health and vulnerable where she 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.”

Mr Campbell-Vencarto , himself 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, were able to share his mother’s estate.

But now talks seem to have become deadlocked and he is planning a legal challenge which could questions the thoroughness of testing Ms Vencato was subjected to ahead of the changes.

He added: “I was given the initial impression that some help via will variation could be provided for my family, however the solicitors and executors of the estate have advised that no payment will be made to anyone other than the Diocese of Brentwood.

“The director of finance at the Diocese of Brentwood states, as they are a charity they are bound by the rules of the Charity Commission and are constrained as to what action can be taken, they added that at this point they can take no further action.”

Mr Campbell-Vencarto, who lives in Stanway, had regular contact with his mother and insisted their relationship was the same as it had been since he was a child.

He also helped her when she was struggling with poor health.

A spokesman for the 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."