A contentious probate family feud the judge dubbed ‘a fight to the death’ is currently being heard in court.
Shirley Guymer, 78, died childless in 2016, two years after her husband had passed away.
Lacking children of her own, Mrs Guymer looked to her nieces, nephews and siblings as potential beneficiaries to her estate.
Following the death of her husband in 2014, one of Mrs Guymer’s priorities involved writing a will which equally split 95% of her estate between her 11 nieces and nephews.
However, whilst Mrs Guymer was dying of terminal cancer, the court has heard the will was changed just two months before she passed away.
The 2016 will left her Hampshire home, making up the bulk of the estate and worth over £650,000 to her brother, Terry Crook, and his two sons Malcolm and Andrew.
The remainder of the estate, worth around £180,000 was to be divided between Mrs Guymer’s nine younger relatives.
Given the last minute and unexpected change of heart, Diane Stoner, Mrs Guymer’s sister, and her niece, Karen Reeve, have contested the new will and accused Mr Crook of coercing his sister into making the changes.
Mrs Guymer had lived at the Hampshire property since 1972.
However, the land was previously owned by Mr Crook who gifted the plot to his sister with the families remaining neighbours until her death in 2016.
The three male beneficiaries claim Mrs Guymer had long hoped to pass the land back to Mr Crook and the ‘headstrong’ donor was determined to fulfil this wish before she passed away, which was why the 2016 will was drafted.
Conversely, the relatives left empty handed believe this was a motive of Mr Crook rather than Mrs Guymer who was allegedly heard saying ‘Terry is not having my land’ on more than one occasion.
Diane Stoner’s barrister further claimed that Mrs Guymer had lost capacity before the final will was signed.
He also argued the will was ‘procured by undue influence’ with Mrs Guymer being forced to sign the document in a hospital waiting room.
The claimants claim Mrs Guymer’s grandson, Malcolm, organised the new will and sought medical testimony from her GP determining Mrs Guymer was well enough to make a new will in 2016.
Whilst the court case continues and legal fees mount, it is clear that the feuding sides are unwilling to back down until a final ruling is reached.
Clearly, a Will prepared professionally should ensure that the clear intentions of the Will maker are properly recorded.
For further advice call us at Amba Legal Services on 01299 251442