Man left ‘homeless and penniless’ after fighting his Eastbourne sister for their mother’s will

Court news
Court news

A brother who fought his own sister in court after they fell out over their late mother’s will has been left homeless and penniless by a £350,000 legal bill.

Gary Watts, 45, claimed his mother Valerie had written his sister, Christine, out of her will on her deathbed.

He said that was because he had been “diligently attentive” to the ailing pensioner, whereas he claimed his sister had only visited her twice.

Gary accused his sister of being a benefits-dependent slacker who was waiting for a payout from their mother’s death to settle her debts.

However, Judge Catherine Newman QC handed Ms Watts victory last year when she ruled her brother had forged their mother’s signature on the deathbed will.

She said he acted out of a “sense of entitlement” to the whole of his late mother’s £200,000 estate.

Christine, from Eastbourne, was handed a £100,000 share, and now her brother has failed in an appeal against that decision.

To add dramatically to his woes, Mr Watts is now facing lawyers’ bills totalling £342,000 as the price of defeat.

That will cost him the whole of his inheritance from his mother, and his home to boot, he says.

Mr Watts said outside court, “It outweighs the whole of my late mother’s estate, never mind just my half.

“There will be an excess of more than £100,000 which will make me homeless. They will take my house and make me homeless.”

He added that, whilst his own barrister represented him for free, to date he owes his sister’s legal team £312,000 for the High Court trial, plus £30,000 for the failed appeal.

The court heard 71-year-old Valerie Watts, of Penney Close, Dartford, Kent, died from cancer in London’s St Thomas’s Hospital in January 2011.

Mr Watts claimed she had cut Christine out of any inheritance in a new will she signed during her final days.

But Judge Newman found that Gary had “simulated” his mother’s signature on the 2011 will.

She ruled in favour of a 1999 will by which Mrs Watts split her estate equally between her two adopted children.

Gary claimed Judge Newman ought to have disqualified herself from hearing the case due to professional links with his sister’s barrister.

The court heard Judge Newman still works as a barrister and, at the time of the trial, was working alongside his sister’s barrister on a pending unrelated case.

Mr Watts claimed that meant Judge Newman should have bowed out from hearing the will dispute.

But Appeal Court judge, Sir Stanley Burnton, dismissed his challenge, saying there had been no “appearance of bias” on Judge Newman’s part.

Mr McLarnon said outside court that Mr Watts is now planning to fight on in the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court.

Mr Watts added, “There are two sides to every story, but this result is disgusting.”

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