The case of Richard Guest v the Executors of Tracey Leaning has highlighted the importance of making a Will with a lawyer’s assistance and keeping it up to date.
In a recent appearance on ITV’s This Morning and an interview with the Daily Mail, Richard Guest explained that he is in dispute with four charities over the estate of his late partner, Tracey Leaning.
Mr Guest and Ms Leaning met in 2008 and bonded over their shared love of dogs. Sadly, Ms Leaning was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 and died in 2015. Before she met Mr Guest, Ms Leaning had prepared a Will with a solicitor in 2007, in which she left her entire estate to the Dogs Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, Friends of the Animals and Heart Research UK.
Following her cancer diagnosis and without informing Mr Guest, Ms Leaning prepared a new homemade Will which altered her wishes so that Mr Guest would inherit her entire estate, consisting of her house, belongings and cash, if he gave her three dogs a home for the rest of their lives.
The four charities are challenging the validity of the Will’s homemade format - handwritten, some of it on a greetings card - and have claimed that it may not have been witnessed correctly, as the signature page was separate to the other pages.
Disputes over Wills can be distressing, time-consuming and expensive for all involved. Mr Guest revealed that he has already spent £10,000 in legal fees fighting the charities. This case is the latest in a long line highlighting the importance of making a Will, keeping it up-to-date and ensuring that it has been prepared and signed properly.