Estrangement and Wills Variation: what goes around…?
Earlier this month, reasons for judgment were released in the case Gray and Gray v. Estate of Gray and others.
The deceased, who died in 2008, had three children from his first marriage, and one from his second. After divorcing his first wife, he was largely estranged (by his choice) from his children. He was much closer to his son from his second marriage.
In his Will, he virtually disinherited his three first-marriage children (giving only very small gifts), one of whom reached a settlement with the Estate, while the other two launched action.
The Court, in a careful, thorough and well reasoned judgment, held that not only was it the Testator’s choice to remain distant from his three children, but also he refused assistance when they asked him (his three first marriage children mostly struggled financially in their adult lives), even though his children did maintain contact with him.
The Estate was valued at roughly $750,000. The second-marriage child was left the residue in the Will.
The Court varied the Will, giving the children from the first marriage each one-quarter of the residue and the second-marriage child half the residue. The Court seemed to view that, since the Testator was responsible for the estrangement in the family, he had a moral duty toward the disinherited children, but still his bond with his son from his second marriage was enough to give that son a higher share of the Estate.
This ad appeared in the Richmond News on September 21, 2012.