Keeping your dying wishes up-to-date – and away from a court room battle

IT started with a kiss and a romantic first meeting at a jive dancing club. But it ended some 12 years later in a bitter court case in which a Judge was forced to rule over a family inheritance row.

And the acrimonious dispute over the will’s contents resulted in a court order this week that two sisters must pay £325,000 from their late father’s £1m estate to his live-in partner.
The judgment highlights the importance of keeping your dying wishes up to date – and out of the court room.

As reported in Today’s Wills and Probate the case revolved around a man who had prepared a will some 20 years before his death, leaving everything to his two daughters.

But James Redmond failed to update it – even when he started a relationship with fellow dance fan and subsequent live-in partner, Carole Taylor, who cared for him as he battled prostate cancer in the final years of his life.

Ms Taylor filed a claim for a one-third share of the estate. Her barrister told the court that Redmond had “given her assurances she would be provided for”. She had cared for Redmond during his illness and contributed to home renovations.
Redmond’s daughters held that he was “not the marrying type” and had numerous friendships with other women, including a 15-year relationship. They claimed that his affair with Ms Taylor was not exclusive as with a husband-and-wife relationship and that she could not therefore expect anything from his estate.
But the Judge, Stephen Hockman QC, found in favour of the claimant, saying: “I find it improbable in the extreme that Mr Redmond in the final months of his life, and in deteriorating health, chose to bring to an end a relationship which had for some years provided him with much intimacy and support, with a woman whom he clearly loved, and who equally clearly returned his affection.”
Contested probate cases like this one, and the difficult and stressful pressures it can place on everyone involved, can be avoided.
It brings to the fore the importance of ensuring you update your will as your circumstances change. For many families, what may have been appropriate two decades ago has probably may not seem so now.
Here at Milners, our inheritance, wills and trusts team recommends a full review at least every five years, to prevent these kind of contested probate cases occurring.
It’s also vital to remember that living with someone can count to nothing in the world of wills if you are not married.
So it’s key to remember that to prevent claims against your estate from beyond the grave, and a bitter and public court room dispute, you must emphasise provision for your partner in your will.
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding wills, trusts and probate, or any other inheritance-related issues, please do not hesitate to contact this article’s author, solicitor Jessica Savage, here at Milners on 0113 245 0852 or email us at hello@milnerslaw

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