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Burger van chef wins inheritance fight to keep £5m from deceased man’s sister

A burger van chef left a huge £5 million fortune by a businessman who befriended him and has won an inheritance battle with the deceased man’s sister.

David Turner died in 2017 and left his wealth to Sam Jones – who he “treated like a son”. They both met 17 years earlier and London’s High Court heard as they shared a mutual passion for guitars and classic cars.

Mr Turner left Mr Jones his home in Chertsey which has been in the family for 70 years. He also “bequeathed his half share in a 14-acre plot near the M25, which if granted planning permission for development could have a price tag of up to £10m”.

Mr Turner’s will was challenged in court by his sister as a copy of his original testament was never found. Rose Fetherstonhaugh, Mr Jones’ barrister, said that there was extensive evidence Mr Turner wanted Mr Jones to inherit his wealth – adding to the fact that Mr Jones cared for him during his final months of life. Fetherstonhaugh said:

“Mr Turner, who had no children of his own, treated Mr Jones like a son and was very close to his family.

Mr Jones looked to him as a father figure and he was a grandfather figure to Mr Jones’ children. Mr Turner grew closer and closer to Mr Jones, and Mr Jones would be around the deceased regularly and up at the farm in the evenings.

By contrast, Mr Turner had a very poor relationship with his sister. This was well known amongst the deceased’s friends; for example, one friend’s evidence is that he ‘never heard Mr Turner say a good word about Mrs Cano…he spoke in language I wouldn’t repeat… he did not like her and did not want to talk about her’.”

Mrs Cano asked the judge to nullify the 2013 will, which would have left her free to inherit under the laws of intestacy. Jude Master Matthew Marsh, however, ruled against Mrs Cano at the High Court – leaving Mr Jones to inherit the fortune.

Mrs Cano accepted she barely contacted her brother since 2008 but claimed he had a habit of making and changing his will.

The court heard both Mr Jones and the executors of Mr Turner’s estate have searched thoroughly throughout the 14 outbuildings and internal rooms of Woodhill Farm in a search for the original.

Finding in favour of Mr Jones, the judge concluded:

“It’s clear from the evidence Mr Turner expressed a strong dislike for his sister. His intentions were clear in 2013, he wanted Mr Jones to benefit as his friend and he didn’t want any part of his estate to go to Mrs Cano.

There’s no evidence of any kind to suggest Mr Turner’s intentions changed from the date he made his will in 2013, and he remained estranged from his sister.

There is clear, unchallenged evidence Mr Jones was a daily visitor to the farm. Mr Jones and others helped care for Mr Turner when his illness became debilitating shortly before his death, showing the strong bond and connections between them.

There’s no evidence Mr Turner attempted to make a new will.”

2 Responses

  1. “Mr Turner’s will was challenged in court by his sister as a copy of his original testament was never found. “

    This statement does not make it clear as to whether the original Will was not found, or whether it was just that a photocopy of it that couldn’t be found. If it is the latter, I would find it difficult to understand why that would be a ground for contesting the matter. If it is the former and it was established that the original will was last in the possession of Mr Turner, then unless there is evidence to the contrary, Mr Turner, unless he lacked capacity would be deemed to have revoked his will by destruction.

  2. Whilst there is a rebuttable presumption that the lost original Will was revoked the law report is not clear in stating Salient facts.

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