Siblings battling over will

Christine Watts
Christine Watts

A workshy daughter made no effort to find a job because she was waiting for her mother’s death to relieve her financial burden, a judge has been told.

Benefits dependent Christine Watts, 47, has “done nothing to get a job” since she became unemployed in 2005, because she expected to be rescued by a share of her mother’s £200,000 estate, the High Court heard.

However, Miss Watts, of Eastbourne, was left without a bean when her mother, Valerie, changed her will on her deathbed, leaving her house in Dartford, Kent, and all her savings to her son Gary, 44.

Gary says he deserves every penny of his inheritance for the years he spent caring for his mother, but his sister is fighting to convince Judge Catherine Newman QC that she is due a fair share.

Miss Watts’ counsel, Jordan Holland, told the court she has back problems and psychological issues which make it impossible for her to work. He argued that made her “dependent” on her late mother, despite being an adult.

But Neil McLarnon, for Gary Watts, accused her of making no effort to find work whilst she waited for her mother to die.

“You have not done anything to get a job,” the barrister told her. “You seem like a physically capable and competent woman. You have been able to come here and conduct this claim in the hope of getting a share of your mother’s estate.

Miss Watts, who used to work as an underwriter, replied, “I don’t go out to the job centre very often. I am not looking for a job.

“I feel that, if I take a job, I would not be able to commit to it because of taking time off sick and it wouldn’t be fair.”

Miss Watts added that she has “debts” that she “considers large”, but denied that she had been waiting for her mother’s death to save her from financial dire straits.

“I never expected anything from my mother’s estate. I never expected she would die so young. I didn’t expect it. I can’t imagine ever having that amount of money. “I need money; I need money for living expenses,” she told the judge. “You could get that money from getting a job,” Mr McLarnon put to her.

Explaining why Valerie Watts had cut his sister out of her will, Gary Watts said, “She was extremely disappointed with the conduct of my sister. She said basically she wanted to change the will. She was disappointed with her not showing any concern for her, not coming up and visiting her.”

Judge Newman said, “Is there no prospect of settling this very sad case over this estate? Is it really worth days of bitter family litigation? Whatever rifts there are now between brother and sister will just be made worse by a judgment one way or another.”

Judge Newman has now reserved her decision on the case until a later date.