The High Court in England and Wales has upheld a 78 year old man’s deathbed Will in which he left everything to the longterm partner he married only a few minutes before executing the Will.
The individual was the holiday camp magnet George Wharton, who died in September 2008 leaving an estate worth £4million. He had cohabited with his partner, Maureen, for 32 years, but had never married her.
The contentious Will was handwritten by his solicitor and executed only 3 days before Mr Wharton’s death. The marriage had taken place the same evening apparently to avoid inheritance tax on the couple’s business.
Mr Wharton’s three daughters challenged the deathbed Will claiming that Maureen had exerted undue influence on Mr Wharton. However, the high court disagreed and Mr Justice Norris said he could not accept that Wharton was acting under coercion when making a deathbed Will in favour of the woman he had treated as his wife for 32 years.