Businessman’s death-bed codicil upheld

Posted: 7th May 2013

The validity of a codicil signed by a businessman in hospital, seven weeks before he died, has been upheld. The High Court ruled that former chartered surveyor Leslie Stolkin had testamentary capacity to execute the codicil, which benefited his long-term cohabitee, and that he had knowledge and understanding of its contents.

Mr Stolkin died, aged 75, in 2009 from a combination of respiratory failure and motor neurone disease. By the codicil, he left his partner, Pauline Greaves, a life interest in the £500,000 home that they had shared, an index linked income of £12,000-a-year and his beloved Ferrari sports car, worth £65,000.Last will

The validity of the codicil was challenged by his son Gary – the sole beneficiary of a will that Mr Stolkin executed in 2001 - on the basis that his father was delirious, brain damaged by years of excessive alcohol consumption and deeply depressed when he signed it.

Dismissing Gary’s arguments, the court noted that Mr Stolkin had proved capable of prevailing on hospital nurses to give him whisky during his final illness and had discharged himself shortly before his death. He had given very substantial financial assistance to Gary during his lifetime and the court noted that medical evidence indicated that the formerly ‘extremely effective businessman’ had known his own mind until the end.

Mr Stolkin had been described as a long-term alcoholic and a sometimes ‘difficult’ and ‘demanding’ character but the court found that it was ‘not in the least improbable’ that he would have wished to provide for Mrs Greaves given the strength of their relationship and the lengthy period of their cohabitation.