Sir Elton John has been cut from the will of his mother, who died recently. In her will, she bequeathed her famous son two ceramic urns and some family photos while his former assistant who was blamed for their family dispute is in line for half of her fortune.
The star last year got “back in touch” with his mother Sheila Farebrother, nine years after they fell out following an argument over the employment of John’s long-time friend, Bob Halley. Halley left Sir Elton’s employment, believing he had been axed – and that Sir Elton’s husband, David Furnish, was behind it. Ms Farebrother was upset at the axing and refused to cut ties.
Ms Farebrother told Sir Elton that: “Bob is like a son to me. He has always been marvellous to me and he lives nearby and keeps an eye on me.”
Mr Halley is now in line for half of her £534,000 fortune, while Sir Elton, 70, his children and his husband David Furnish have been cut from the will.
Sir Elton’s half-brother Frederick Farebrother, and Ms Farebrother’s friend Deborah Woodward, will reportedly receive the rest of the money.
It’s understood Ms Farebrother changed her will in November, less than a month before her death. A paragraph reportedly mentioning Sir Elton in the will briefly says: “I give to my son Elton John free of all taxes my two Batignani blue/gold urns and my photographs of mother in uniform and grandfather in uniform.”
To be cut from the will seems to be a final act of hostility towards her son following their very public feud. They appeared to have buried the hatchet in May last year as Sir Elton tweeted a heartfelt message to Sheila, saying: “Dear Mum, Happy Mother’s Day! So happy we are back in touch. Love, Elton.”
And after her funeral in December, he posted on Instagram to say: “Thank you for bringing me into the world and for all that you have done for me.” But her final act of changing her will just before her death may mean that the feud was not quite over.
Cut from the will: Will Elton go to court?
Family provision claims arise where a will maker doesn’t make adequate provision in his or her will for family members. In each of the states of Australia, the law casts an obligation upon a will maker to make adequate provision for certain persons. The definition of ‘certain persons’ differs from state to state. In Queensland, a will maker ought to make adequate provision for the following persons:
· Former spouse (in limited circumstances);
· A dependent (in limited circumstances).
In this case, because Elton John is the child of the will-maker, he at least would be considered an eligible person to make a claim on the will. It is at the discretion of the court as to whether or not family provision claims are successful. Not every applicant will be successful and not every applicant is eligible. The key is to seek advice from an expert in succession law.
The important thing to remember with family provision claims is that the test is not to establish what the deceased intended under the will. The court must simply decide whether or not provision ought to be made to the applicant based on a number of things:
- Whether any provision you have already received is adequate for your proper maintenance, education and advancement in life.
- Competing claims of other eligible persons or beneficiaries. You may not be the only person who was cut out of the will.
- The nature and duration of your relationship with the person who has passed away.
- Your financial resources and earning capacity.
- The size of the estate. For example, you may pass all the criteria to make a successful family provision claim, but if there is only $20,000.00 in the estate, then there is very little scope for a Court to order provision.
- The financial circumstances of people you cohabit with, such as your spouse or de facto.
- Contributions you made, both financial and non-financial, to the person who has passed away.
- Any provision the deceased person made for you during their lifetime.
In the case of Elton John, given the size of his own fortune, a judge may decide not to award him anything from the estate as he has no need for it.
The area of law surrounding family provision claims is complex. Advice should always be sought urgently as there are tight time frames. In Queensland, you only have 9 months from the date of death and notification must be made within 6 months from date of death.
If you’ve been cut from a will or need assistance with any aspect of challenging a will, contact us today. We offer a FREE, 10-minute phone consultation.