A British farmer died and left his second wife of nine years the sum of $155,000. He left each of his sons from a prior marriage the sum of $81,000. The sons contested the will by arguing that their father, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease for 20 years, was incompetent when he made the will. The argued that his prior will which left his wife the sum of $125,000 was his real will. After years of litigation, and $250,000 of legal fees, the court ruled that his last will was valid and that all of the legal fees for the will contest were to be paid by the sons, not the estate. In his ruling, the judge stated the sons were unreasonable and frivolous for fighting over such a small amount which was motivated by their dislike of their mother.
Several non-pithy points:
1. The sons were simply expressing their disdain for their dad’s second wife by fighting over such a small amount and likely hoping to force their step-mother to spend her entire inheritance on legal fees. Bleed her dry, if you will.
2. Unlike the U.S. where each party is responsible for his own legal fees, the British system allows the loser to pay the legal fees of all parties.
3. Editorializing a bit here, I have never understood the visceral dislike or animosity towards second spouses. From a child’s point of view, I embraced my mom’s second husband because he was able to provide her companionship, someone to travel and dine with, a social life, and mental stimulation. He was also able to assist her with her medical needs, whether they were doctor appointments or recovering from surgeries or illnesses (the same applies times two for the woman my father in law has dated for five years - she is an angel). I never viewed him as a replacement for my father, but simply as a good man in the next chapter of my mom’s life. Sadly, I do not think enough children view their parent’s second spouse in a similar manner. These British guys were twits in not appreciating the woman who took care of their ailing father to the best of her abilities.
Photo Copyright: Paul Keogh
License: Fair Use/Education