Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
A family dispute as to the last Will of Shirley Guymer has been concluded with one set of relatives conceding the claim.
Referred to by the Judge as a “fight to the death” the claim centred around a Will executed by Mrs Guymer after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
When Mrs Guymer’s husband died in 2014 she executed a Will leaving 95% of her Estate equally between her nieces and nephews since the couple had no children of their own. Just two months before her death, however, she changed the Will leaving her Hampshire home (the bulk of her Estate) to her brother Terry Crook and his sons Malcolm and Andrew.
Mr Crook had originally owned the land on which the house was built and had gifted it to Mrs Guymer. Mrs Guymer had lived in the house in Hampshire since 1972.
The remainder of the Estate – worth about £180,000 – was then divided between the remaining nine nieces and nephews.
Challenging the Will, Mrs Guyner’s sister Diane Stoner and niece Karen Reeve alleged that Mr Crook had coerced his sister into changing her Will in his favour.
Mr Crook advanced the defence that Mrs Guymer had hoped to return the land to him and had been determined to fulfil this wish by executing the 2016 Will. Mrs Stoner argued that Mrs Guymer had said on more than one occasion “Terry is not having my land”. Those challenging the Will also claimed that Mrs Guymer lacked capacity when she signed the Will and that she had been subject to undue influence from Mr Crook.
Prior to a final ruling from the Court, Mr Crook and his sons reached an agreement with Diane Stoner and Karen Reeve that the 2016 Will should be set aside and the original Will signed in 2014 would be propounded.
The resolution to the claim will no doubt be welcome but both parties will have incurred significant costs. More lasting will be the damage to family relationships such a dispute inevitably causes.