Woman Wins One-Third Of Estate From Late Partner’s Daughters

A judge has ordered two sisters to pay £325,000 from their late father’s £1m estate to his live-in partner.

Claimant Carole Taylor, 70, met James Redmond at a jive dancing evening in Slough Irish Club. She moved in with him in 2007 and cared for him over the last years of his life. He died in 2014, aged 74, after suffering from prostate cancer for 15 years.

His will, made 20 years before his death, left everything to his two daughters, Jane Redmond and Lynn Leberknight. After his death, Mrs Leberknight told Ms Taylor to leave the home she had shared with James Redmond, stating incorrectly that the property had not been left to the sisters and had to be sold.

Judge Stephen Hockman QC, said: “Whilst it was not unlawful to take this stance, it could hardly be said that the matter was handled with sensitivity.”

Ms Taylor left and went to live with her son, but filed a claim for a share of the estate. Her barrister told the court that Redmond had “given her assurances she would be provided for”. She had cared for Redmond during his illness and contributed to home renovations.

Redmond’s daughters held that he was “not the marrying type” and had numerous friendships with other women, including a 15-year relationship. They claimed that his affair with Ms Taylor was not exclusive as with a husband-and-wife relationship and that she could not therefore expect anything from his estate.

They also said that in the latter stage of his life, Redmond distanced himself from Ms Taylor and had asked her to move out.

Hospital records showed that Mrs Leberknight had described Mrs Taylor as her “step-mother” and Redmond himself had referred to Ms Taylor as his “partner”. She also claimed she was the only girlfriend that Redmond had invited to spend Christmas with him and his family.

The judge found in favour of the claimant, saying: “I find it improbable in the extreme that Mr Redmond in the final months of his life, and in deteriorating health, chose to bring to an end a relationship which had for some years provided him with much intimacy and support, with a woman whom he clearly loved, and who equally clearly returned his affection,.

“I am therefore satisfied that Ms Taylor did live with Mr Redmond in the same household as him…throughout the period in which they were together. I am equally satisfied that Mr Redmond and Ms Taylor lived together as man and wife, and in particular that Ms Taylor lived with Mr Redmond as his wife.”

He ordered that the sisters pay £325,000 to Ms Taylor from the estate, with £180,000 from that sum being invested in a property for her to live in. On her death, her interest in the property is to revert to the sisters.

How can older clients be prompted to review and update their wills to prevent disputes after their deaths? Do you think those who have chosen not to marry should be entitled to a share of their partner’s estate?

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