A son is battling his younger stepmother for a share of his late father’s £600,000 fortune and claims there is ‘no way’ his father would have left everything to her.
The court heard that after 30 years of marriage, John Payne senior left his first wife Vera Baxter (who is now in her late 70s) in March 1997.
Retired postal worker John Payne was 59 when he married Kim Payne, later in 1997 when she was less than half his age after divorcing his first wife.
Kim, who was then in her mid-20s, produced a will after the pensioner’s death, dated May 1998, under which she was to be left the whole of his fortune. The estate comprised of his three-quarter stake in the family house, and a share portfolio worth £250,000.
The pensioner died in 2012 aged 74, and the legal battle over his inheritance has been ongoing since then.
The sum includes his majority share in the £450,000 family house, which the family had ‘saved up for four generations’ to put a deposit on.
Kim insists her husband made a valid will leaving her all of his assets including his share in the house, 14 months after they married.
However, John Payne Junior, has challenged the will, saying there is ‘no way’ his late dad would have let the cherished property pass outside of the family.
Although Kim is battling to get the will upheld by the Courts, John junior claims that his father made a later will in April 2012, whereby he left just £15,000 to Kim, a further £15,000 to his grandson and the remainder to his eldest son.
However, in February 2017, Judge Diana Faber at the Central London County Court concluded that neither will was in fact valid.
The Judge found that the 2012 will was ‘not witnessed correctly,’ while Kim had been ‘unable to produce a signed copy of the 1998 will’.
The Judge held that the 1998 will had not been signed by the witnesses, who instead wrote their names in capitals on an envelope containing the will.
But Kim is now asking for the ruling over the 1998 will to be overturned and allow her to introduce new evidence to prove its validity.
Mrs Baxter, who also attended court, said that her son had been ‘crucified’ by the battle with his late father’s second wife.
The judges heard one of the witnesses to the 1998 will give evidence, which Kim says backs her claim that it reflects the true dying wishes of her late husband.
Describing her experience of the legal fight, Mrs Payne told the court: ‘It’s emotional. The stress I’ve been put through, my doctor says it’s a wonder I haven’t had a breakdown.
The judges reserved their decision at the end of the hearing, which will be delivered at a later date/
Should neither will be held to be valid, Mr Payne will have died intestate, meaning that his estate will be divided in accordance with the intestacy rules.
John Junior said outside court that, if he comes away with anything from his father’s estate, he will split it with his three siblings.
In scenarios such as this it is fundamentally important to ensure that your affairs and estate are in order. It is a difficult time for families and following a death it can cause significant strains on the family members. The testator may not have divided their estate how others might expect. However, it is entirely their choice what they do with their assets following death. With this in mind it is important that proper records are taken of the wishes and set out to ensure that the Will and any instructions are complied with and prevent cases such as this.
An up to date Will and thoroughly planned out wishes provides you with security that it is clear, and should prevent circumstances as in this case.
This is all the more reason to contact a solicitor to have a Will written up. Our team of experts are able to take you through the process to guarantee you the service is tailored specifically to your needs and advise on all suitable areas.
Dated: 05/04/2018 by Samantha Kennedy