I Urge You To Make A Will

You may have read recently about the case of Joy Williams. She is the lady who brought proceedings against Maureen Martin when Maureen’s husband died having lived with Joy for eighteen years.

Mr Martin had not changed his will to reflect his living arrangements and yet he had lived with Joy Williams all of those years. He and Maureen had not divorced. Mr Martin had clearly had some legal advice as he and Joy owned their home as tenants in common. This means that they could have left their respective shares in their home to anyone of their choosing by way of a will.

The most important thing about this case is that It has cost a fortune, the home in dispute was worth £320,000 and Mrs Martin has been ordered to pay Joy Williams £100,000 in legal costs!

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Joy said, after the judge ordered that she was entitled to retain her home  “I believe that this is what Norman would have wanted for me”. How do we know that? If he was so determined to break

away from his wife why did he not issue divorce proceedings? After all, even if the couple had not wanted to blame one another they could have had a fault free divorce after two years, if they both agreed to this, or after five years if one of them didn’t agree.

At the same time as dealing with the divorce it would have been good practice for the couple to attend to a financial settlement. The resulting court order would have finalised matters between them; it would have meant that Mrs Martin would not have been entitled to Mr Martin’s estate upon his death. It would have saved the two ladies, and no doubt their families, a huge amount of stress.

Was it Mr Martin’s intention to put them both through this and for over £100,000 to be lost in legal fees? I doubt that very much.

In any event a will, whether Mr Martin was divorced from Mrs Martin or not, would have reduced a huge amount of uncertainty in this case. Mr Martin’s share of the house  could have been left to either Joy, Maureen or indeed Mr and Mrs Martin’s daughter.

Had Mr Martin attended Emmersons Solicitors Private Client Department we would have considered carefully all of his financial circumstances. We would have encouraged him to make a will, and either sort out his financial affairs with Mrs Martin or leave her something in his will or indeed specifically exclude her.  In respect of Joy Williams, we would have made sure that he either left her his share of the house or set out in a legal document explaining why he had not done so.

You may think that this is a rare case. All that is are about it is that it was reported in the press. I dealt with a divorce some years ago. At the time I advised my client, let’s call him Peter, make a will and to attend to the ownership of the matrimonial home with his wife. What he actually wanted, and he told me this many times over the next ten years, was for his child to inherit his half of his home.  It would have taken one land registry document and one will to achieve this.

Peter was always too busy to attend to his affairs. He ended up buying a new home in his own name and later his new partner moved in with him. Still no will! His partner didn’t work and so would be able to prove that she was financially dependent upon Peter for the purposes of inheritance. Thus when he died suddenly, in his mid-forties, his wife would have been entitled to the first house in its entirety and his partner would have claimed quite a share of his second house. The one person not to be looked after in the way that Peter really wanted was his young son. What a sad state of affairs.

Remember, there is no such legal concept in this country as common law wife. Do not assume you or your partner will be looked after by the courts. You may have to fight for everything if your partner dies without leaving  a will in your favour.

You can guess the moral of this story: make a will and finalise your financial affairs by way of a court order if you and your spouse have separated or divorced.

Otherwise I’d be more than happy to charge your family  £100,000 in legal fees to help them obtain their share of your estate!

 

For a Free Appraisal of your existing will call us now on 0191 2846989.

Ex-footballer Adam Johnson found guilty

Ex-footballer Adam Johnson found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a girl aged 15. He had previously pleaded guilty to two offences.

Below is a copy extract from the BBC News website

Adam Johnson guilty of child sex charge

    • 2 March 2016
Adam JohnsonImage copyrightPA/Durham Police
The former Sunderland footballer was arrested in March last year

Ex-England footballer Adam Johnson has been found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a girl aged 15.

The jury at Bradford Crown Court found Johnson guilty of a charge of sexual touching, but not guilty on a charge relating to another sexual act.

The former Sunderland player had previously admitted grooming the girl and one charge of sexual activity.

Judge Jonathan Rose has warned Johnson he faces jail and told him to “say goodbye to your daughter”.

In a statement, Johnson’s victim said she had been through the “hardest year” of her life.

She said meeting her hero felt “surreal” at first but she now feels “used and let down” by Johnson.

She said: “I have had to face so much abuse after he claimed his innocence and I was made out to be a liar.

“What happened in his car has turned my life upside down.

“There are people who have made assumptions about me and this has been hard to deal with… Him being found guilty shows everyone I was telling the truth.”

‘Significant sentence’

The judge said his preliminary view was that the case falls into the category of a five-year prison sentence with a range of four to 10 years.

He said: “The defendant must understand there is a very high probability of a significant custodial sentence.”

The judge told Johnson he would be released on bail so he could get his “affairs in order”.

He said: “You can say goodbye to your daughter. A prison sentence will mean you will not see her for some time.”

Johnson, 28, showed no emotion as the verdicts were delivered and he has been granted bail until his sentencing, which is due to take place in two to three weeks.

Johnson met up with the girl on 30 January 2015 after agreeing to sign football shirts for her, the court heard.

The player admitted kissing the teenager but told the jury the encounter in his Range Rover “went no further”.

However the girl told the court the former winger “put his hands down her pants” and she performed an oral sex act on him.

The jury, which had been deliberating since Tuesday morning following a three-week trial, cleared Johnson over the oral sex claim but convicted him by a 10-2 majority on the sexual touching charge.

Johnson was sacked by Sunderland after admitting on the first day of his trial that he had kissed the girl.

He began communicating with the girl at the very end of 2014 while his partner, Stacey Flounders, was heavily pregnant with their first child.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a Sunderland season ticket holder and was “infatuated” with Johnson.

Johnson told the jury that when she sent him a friend request on Facebook he recognised her as a Sunderland fan.

After he accepted the request he began a communication which involved 834 WhatsApp messages in little more than a month before the exchanges moved on to SnapChat and were not recorded.

During the trial, prosecutors accused Johnson of delaying his admission to the lesser offences until the start of his trial so he could still play for Sunderland, from whom he earned £60,000 a week.

Johnson told the court the club knew he had kissed the girl.

In a statement issued after the verdict, the club said it played no part in Johnson’s plea decisions and only became aware he was changing his plea when he admitted two of the charges in court, at which point it sacked him.

Sunderland’s statement said: “Had the club known that Mr Johnson intended to plead guilty to any of these charges then his employment would have been terminated immediately.

“Indeed, upon learning of the guilty plea on 11 February 2016, the club acted quickly and decisively in terminating Adam Johnson’s contract without notice.

“This has been an extremely difficult time for all involved. The victim and her family have endured an unimaginable ordeal in the last 12 months and we trust that they will now be allowed to move on with their lives without further intrusion or public scrutiny.”

Speaking after the verdicts, Det Insp Aelfwynn Sampson from Durham Police praised the victim for her bravery.

She said: “In our football-obsessed region, Adam Johnson had a responsibility as a professional footballer to be a role model, a role he did not fulfil.”

Children’s charity the NSPCC also condemned Johnson after his trial.

A spokesperson said: “Adam Johnson cynically used his celebrity status as a professional footballer to groom and sexually abuse an impressionable schoolgirl.

“His behaviour throughout was inexcusable, made even worse by the fact his not guilty pleas forced his young victim to suffer the harrowing experience of giving evidence in court.”