February 11, 2016

Case highlights dangers of not updating a will

Joy Williams had lived with Norman Martin for the best part of 20 years, but is now at risk of losing her home following her partner’s death from a heart attack four years ago.

Because Mr Martin had never divorced and his will was not updated, his share of the couple’s home passed to his estranged wife Maureen.

Ms Williams has now taken her case to the Central London County Court in an effort to remain at the three-bedroom bungalow in Dorchester, Dorset.

She risks losing the home, valued at around £350,000, because she cannot afford to buy out Mrs Martin.

The 69-year-old has said she should be awarded the share of the property to give her some security for the future.

The case highlights the importance of keeping a will up-to-date; Mr Martin had intended to change the document but had not done so at the time of his death in 2012.

The difficulty in this case is that Ms Williams and Mr Martin had owned the home as tenants-in-common so that on Mr Martin’s death his share of the property did not pass automatically to Ms Williams. Many people are unaware of the fact that the law does not recognise cohabitees as having the same legal rights as couples who are married or in a civil partnership.

For legal advice on trusts of land and making or updating a will, please contact Tony Millson or Deanna Hurst in Royds’ Private Client team.

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