Will your new partner respect your wishes for your existing family?
Written by Cindy-Marie Leicester on June 02, 2016.
Second marriages and complicated family set ups are becoming more and more common. While we would all like to believe that the partner that we love will respect our dying wishes with regard to looking after children from previous relationships, it is best to leave nothing to chance as the high profile story of popular British TV actress, Lynda Bellingham, illustrates.
Lynda sadly passed away in 2014, the victim of colon cancer. She had a varied career appearing in hit TV shows such as All Creatures Great and Small, Z Cars, The Professionals and The Sweeney and later starring on the lunchtime panel show, Loose Women. However she was probably best-known for her turn as the Oxo mum in the eighties adverts for the nation’s favourite gravy.
It is something of an irony that the mother of the perfect family in the ads struggled to find happiness at home herself. It was a case of third time lucky when she finally found true love with Michael Pattemore, who she married in 2008, following two calamitous marriages, the second of which was famously abusive.
Lynda was survived by her third husband and two adult sons from her second marriage, Michael and Robbie Peluso. At the time of her death she owned property jointly with Pattemore and her dying wish was that he ensured ‘the boys are looked after’ although her widower claims that she left everything to him in her will.
If the media are to be believed the man she loved showed scant respect for her wishes, reputedly buying an eight-bedroom mansion in Somerset and giving the sons just £750 each. What is clear is that, unsurprisingly, the sons are disputing the will and have called in the lawyers. They claim that Pattemore has evicted them from the family home, squandered thousands of pounds from their mother’s estate on holidays and a hair transplant and deprived them of their inheritance. The widower on the other hand claims that the estate is tied up in property and therefore difficult to access and that it was up to him to decide how much to pass on to Lynda’s sons and when.
It is not clear on what grounds the sons will be contesting the will but this is a notoriously difficult thing to do and the case is likely to drag on for many months or even years. One argument could be that the will does not make reasonable financial provision for them under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents Act) 1975. It has been reported that the two men have had to leave the home they lived in with their mother to move into a small flat with their father. Alternatively, they could claim that the Will was made under undue influence however this is extremely difficult to prove even if, as is claimed in the press, the will was made in the last year of Lynda’s life when she was undergoing treatment.
The fact is that however much you think your new partner loves your children, you should make specific provision for them in your will. It really is the only way to make sure that your legacy is distributed according to your wishes. I would also strongly advise having the will drawn up by a professional who can give advice relevant to your particular situation and ensure that the will is correctly drafted and legally binding.
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