Fiancée Loses Fight In Millionaire Contentious Probate Court Battle
A high-profile contentious probate case has once again emphasised the need for a detailed and up to date Will.
The fiancée of millionaire businessman, Charles Caudle, has lost a court battle with her fiancée’s ex–wife despite being named as a beneficiary in his most up to date will.
Despite being named as a beneficiary, the executor of Charles Caudle’s estate, who is also his ex-wife, has had her claim of trespass upheld by the court.
Lucy Blyth has subsequently been ordered to vacate the property, owned by Caudle’s estate, by November 29th following an order for possession.
The £8.6 million fortune has also been whisked into an offshore trust and is bequeathed to his only son, leaving no further provisions to any other beneficiary.
After divorcing his wife, Rebecca Muddeman, in 2007, Charles Caudle started an intense relationship with fellow successful business owner, Lucy Blyth, in 2008.
Shorty after their relationship started, Lucy Blyth moved into Mr Caudle’s £8 million mansion in Dorset, with Caudle proposing not long after.
However, by 2010, Lucy Blyth had left the mansion with her three children and moved into an accompanying £300,000 bungalow owned by Mr Caudle.
The pair claimed friction between Mr Caudle’s son and Ms Blyth’s three children sparked the separation, but the couple remained in a committed and loving relationship up to his death from cancer in 2016.
Charles Caudle’s 2014 Will appeared to testify to these claims as he referred to Lucy Blyth as his fiancée and named her as a beneficiary.
Blyth claimed she was promised the home by Mr Caudle, insisting that he had claimed she would “always have a roof over her head.“
Despite naming his Ms Blyth as a beneficiary, the judge has sided with Ms Muddeman, citing a lack of documentary evidence supporting the alleged promises.
Ms Blyth further claimed that a ‘letter of wishes’ accompanied Mr Caudle’s final 2014 Will, but nothing was found. She further claimed that she had acted to her detriment if the promise was not fulfilled, becoming dependent on the assurances that the property would remain her home.
Judge Sara Langley deemed the documentary oversight as strange following testimony suggesting that Mr Caudle’s attention to detail was unrivalled and such an oversight would have been unlikely.
The judge speculated that, in all likelihood, their relationship ended around the time Ms Blyth moved into the bungalow and Mr Caudle had little intention of leaving any of his fortune to his ex-partner.
In addition to losing her home, Ms Blyth has also been ordered to pay the court costs amounting to £78,000.
Judge Sara Langley, presiding judge in the case, stated:
“They did become engaged, but the wedding never took place – Charles called off the engagement in 2008 and terminated their relationship.
“I accept, and find as a result, that the relationship he had with Lucy ended many years before his death.
“There were no significant legacies for Lucy and the will does not leave the bungalow to her.
“There is no documentary evidence Charles ever intended her to benefit from his estate, save as a residuary beneficiary.”
Can a potential beneficiary ever rely on promises made by the donor? Would the letters of intent have changed the verdict?