Imagine the scene; you’re 38 years old, a very successful entrepreneur with your whole life ahead of you. You have two young sons from your first marriage who you are looking forward to seeing grow up and supporting them to do so, and you have a second wife with many future plans together. As far as you know you are in good health and the preparation of a Will just never seems important as there will be plenty of time in the future to deal with this.
This was exactly the position of Matt Tomon who unexpectedly died in 2016 leaving no Will. His second wife received the whole of his estate worth in excess of £5.2 million which led to his first wife raising a challenge on behalf of herself and her two sons. So began a lengthy and costly process which led to the recent High Court decision to decide how Mr Tomon’s wealth should be divided.
The Court heard that Mr Tomon and his first wife Louisa Simonetta were once work colleagues but began a relationship around 2003 and started the IT company Greenfields Technology Ltd in 2005. They married in 2007 and had two sons. Ms Simonetta then stayed at home to bring up the family. In 2013 they divorced and Mr Tomon shortly after married his second wife Ruby Lovell-Tomon.
Following the divorce Mr Tomon continued to support the family and remained on good terms with Ms Simonetta and his sons.
Mr Tomon’s IT company was sold for £5.2 million shortly before his death and the proceeds were deposited in his new wife’s bank account. She argued the money was an outright gift to her but Ms Simonetta’s claim was that Mr Tomon had promised to buy her a “massive amazing house” and to pay for his sons to be privately educated and he would also maintain his sons and Ms Simonetta while she retrained as a teacher.
However by the time of his death he had not yet bought the promised house and his second wife was left in possession of most of his estate.
A settlement was eventually agreed between the two sides whereby the sons would receive £950,000 between them and their mother was awarded cash and property worth almost £1 million. The Judge thought this to be a “reasonable and sensible compromise” of the case rather than continuing protracted litigation. He said “such is one of the consequences of failing to make provision in the form of a Will or otherwise for your family… the reality would be months extending into years no doubt, of litigation”.
In this case a negotiated settlement was reached without full Court proceedings but still significant costs inevitably will have been incurred together with the uncertainty and anxiety associated with such negotiations. It is a timely reminder that no one is ever too young to write a Will to put their affairs in order should the worst happen and to ensure that all loved ones receive appropriate provision.
For more information on any of the above, or how we can help you, please contact Alice Clewes, or call 0191 232 8345.