Orphan challenges decision over will blunder

by Sarah Ashcroft

An orphan who was unofficially adopted by a couple was unable to receive his inheritance due to a legal technicality regarding the will, a court has heard.

Terry Marley, who is now 50, spent 30 years living with Alfred and Maureen Rawlings from the age of 15, and continued to care for them into their old age.

The couple made a will disinheriting their two natural sons and leaving everything to Mr Marley, which amounted to a sum total of £70,000.

However, following their deaths it was revealed that Mr Rawlings had signed his wife's will and vice versa, meaning Terry Rawlings and his brother Michael received the inheritance against their parents' wishes.

Mr Marley is now challenging the decision in Appeal Court after losing to the brothers Rawlings in the High Court earlier this year.

"There is no hint of fraud or any uncertainty or suspicion surrounding the preparation or execution of the couple's wills," the Daily Mail reports Mr Marley's barrister, Teresa Peacocke, as telling the Appeal Court.

She argued that the ultimate concern of the court should be to ensure the last known wishes of the deceased are followed, but the lawyer acting on behalf of the Rawlings' sons said: "The fact is that the late Mr Rawlings did not sign his will, and Mrs Rawlings did not sign hers, and so he died intestate."

The judgement has been reserved by the Appeal Court until a later date.

It is unknown why the Rawlings decided to cut Terry Rawlings, a biographer of rock stars, and his brother Michael out of the inheritance when they were making a will.

This follows news that the servant who inherited the entire fortune of former peer Lord Glenconner has given the proceeds he raised from selling a 38-carat piece of emerald jewellery back to the family, resulting in a disinherited grandson receiving £200,000.

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Published on: October 25, 2011

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