The sister and niece of a widow have won a legal battle over her estate, according to a recent article in the Daily Mail.

Shirley Guymer died in 2016 at the age of 78 but had changed her Will two months earlier, leaving her home to her brother, Terry Crook, and his sons, Malcolm and Andrew.

An earlier version of her Will had left 95 percent of the estate (an estimated £825,000) to her 11 nieces and nephews, the children of her five siblings. Mrs Guymer had no children herself. Her sister, Diane Stoner and niece Karen Reeve, accused the Crooks of ‘stitching up an old lady’.

Men agree last will be scrapped

In the court on Wednesday, the case was halted at Central London County Court when the men agreed that the later Will ought to be scrapped, and the 2015 Will should be the final one.

Mrs Reeve said she was delighted with the outcome, which respected her aunt’s wishes and that Rowen’s Hospice, the local hospice where Mrs Guymer’s husband received palliative care, would now receive a legacy.

During the hearing, the women had claimed Mrs Guymer’s brother and nephews had guided her hand as she left the £645,000 house, on Butser Hill near Petersfield to that side of the family.

Last will valid claim

But the Crooks insisted the last Will was valid, and ‘stubborn and strong’ Shirley knew her own mind when she signed it in hospital.

Mrs Guymer and her husband had lived in the house since 1972. Mr Crook had bought the land the house stood on and handed over part of the plot to them. After her husband died in 2014, Mrs Guymer wrote a Will splitting almost all of her estate equally between her 11 nieces and nephews.

Challenging the 2016 Will, barrister Julian Sidoli said Mrs Guymer did not have the mental capacity to understand what she was doing when she signed the document in a hospital waiting room. Her nephew, Malcolm, had been the ‘driving force’ behind the attempt to keep the house on the Crooks’ side of the family. He added that the Will was Malcolm’s, not Shirley’s.

Sister changed her mind

Mr Crook denied all the accusations, saying his sister had simply changed her mind when she realised she was terminally ill. Carol Davies, acting for the Crooks, said Mrs Guymer’s GP thought she was well enough to make the Will. Her change of heart could be attributed to the house’s original ownership through Mr Crook, and her wish for it to go back to him when she died. Ms Davies called the allegations ‘mud-slinging’ and that there was nothing credible in the claimants’ case.

Malcolm Crook said he considered Mrs Guymer a ‘second mum’ and that she had looked after him as a baby. In turn, he cared for her when she became ill.

 

In court, Mrs Stoner said her sister had told everyone she wanted to leave her estate to all her nieces and nephews. Another sister, Dee Parker, told Judge Robin Hollington QC that Terry Crook had constantly ‘controlled and belittled’ his sister, and that Mrs Guymer was afraid of him.

On the eighth day of the court hearing, the men agreed the Will should be scrapped.

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