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Wetherspoons will dispute

View profile for Rachel Leech
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A will made in a Wetherspoons pub, by a man leaving his estate to his taxi driver, has been declared invalid.

Gary Mendez, 57, agreed to leave everything to his taxi driver, Dean Hughes. He made the will in his local Wetherspoons pub, over a pint, months before his death. The two had formed a friendship when other taxi drivers refused to take Gary because of his weight.

Gary’s estate consisted of his house, worth £160,000, that he shared with his partner, Hermes Rodrigues. The couple had lived together since meeting on a cruise in 2001.

Hermes described Gary as a ‘very generous and caring man’ with whom he had fallen in love. Hermes cared for Gary when his health deteriorated. Hermes told the court that Gary told him “it would always be my home whatever happened”. Gary had made a will 3 years before his death leaving everything to Hermes.

Hermes said that because of Gary’s alcohol consumption and health problems, he could not have understood his decision when he later made a will leaving everything to Dean.

We all know that people do not always make the best decisions once they have had a drink or two!

The Judge found it likely that Gary had been drinking quite a bit when he signed the will and, therefore, he had doubts whether Gary had a proper understanding of the contents and effect of the will. The Judge declared the will invalid. Dean Hughes was reportedly ordered to pay 85% of Hermes’ legal costs, which are estimated to be more than £50,000.

A person must not lack testamentary capacity when making a will for it to be valid. To have testamentary capacity, the person must:

  • Be capable of understanding the nature of his/her act. Gary needed to have understood that he was making a will that would leave Dean his house when he died.
  • Understand the extent of the property of which he/she is disposing. Gary needed to have understood that he owned a home worth £160,000.
  • Comprehend and appreciate the claims to which he ought to give effect. For example, Gary needed to have appreciated that Hermes would expect to inherit their home.
  • Not be suffering from any disorder of the mind that would poison his affections, pervert his sense of right or pervert the exercise of his/her natural faculties. If Gary was under the influence of alcohol, this could have perverted his sense of what was right and the exercise of thought process in leaving his estate to a taxi driver rather than his long term partner.

At Birkett Long, we have a team which specialises in will disputes and can assist you if you are involved in an inheritance dispute or contentious probate matter. If you would like legal advice, please contact our specialist will and inheritance dispute lawyers. I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217623 or rachel.leech@birkettlong.co.uk.

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