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82 year old loses appeal against wife’s will

An 82 year-old former civil servant has been told that an appeal against his deceased wife’s will has no chance of success.

Joseph Henein was married to the late Mary for 25 years before her death from lung cancer in 2008. They had known each other since their childhoods in Egypt, but their eventual marriage was her second. Just weeks before she passed away, Mrs Heinen changed her will, leaving her entire share of the family home in north London to her son from her first marriage, who is now in his 50s.

She also issued a ‘notice of severance’ – a legal declaration of a change in property ownership or occupancy. Hers separated her half of the home from her husband, so the two were no longer joint tenants and he would no longer automatically inherit her half after her death.

Mr Henein contested the will in court. He blamed Mary’s son for the altered will, arguing that that his wife may not have had the mental capacity to make such a major change to her will shortly before her death and so may not have understood what she was agreeing to. Mr Henein also contested the validity of the notice of severance.

But his arguments were rejected by the Central London County Court. The Judge ruled that the new will and notice of severance were both valid.

Mr Henein then sought permission to take his case to the Court of Appeal, insisting that it was “impossible” that his wife could have intended to cut him out of her will.

“She wasn’t just my wife, she was everything for me.”

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division described the case as “very sad” and “distressing”. He noted that:

“Mr Henein suffers a great sense of injustice. He cannot believe that his wife would have acted in the way she appeared to do if she had known what she was doing and was not under the influence of the son.”

Nevertheless, he concluded with “regret” that there was “no realistic prospect of an appeal succeeding in this case.”

The retired civil servant now faces a £126,000 legal bill. The President acknowledged that this “catastrophic” outcome meant that the former family home in Edmonton will now have to be sold.

“A very significant part of [Mr Henein’s] share will be swallowed up in costs and he will be left homeless.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    “The retired civil servant now faces a £126,000 legal bill. ”
    £126,000 legal bill for a case that has such a limited chance of success (especially trying to get costs) !
    The lawyers all win big as usual. Our legal system just takes advantage of people.

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