Bellingham estate dispute may get nasty

Lynda Bellingham (born Meridith Lee Hughes) passed away on October 19, 2014. The Canadian-born English actress had an illustrious career in television and film that spanned several decades. Ms. Bellingham was married three times. Her second marriage was to Nunzo Peluso. They had two sons, Michael and Robbie Peluso. She did not have any children from her other marriages. Her third marriage to Michael Pattemore lasted until her death. Mr. Pattemore was known from the TV Series Loose Women. Lynda Bellingham is survived by her two sons and her widower.

After Ms. Bellingham passed away, an estate dispute quickly developed. Her will allegedly left everything in her estate to Michael Pattemore. Her two sons are alleging that Michael Pattemore is preventing them from accessing their inheritance. Allegations are also being made that the will in question was prepared in a short period of time (two weeks). At the time Ms. Bellingham was told she had a 50/50 chance of living as a result of her battle with cancer. She was also taking various medications.

It is interesting to note that her sons are not challenging the validity of the will. According to a story published in the Huffpost Entertainment, their position appears to be that they should have been included in the decision making process but were not. Additionally, they are also alleging that their mother’s wishes were for them to have a roof over their heads and to make sure they were okay. None of the allegations have been proven in Court, and the will has not been probated yet.

The Bellingham estate dispute is an example of what may happen when people remarry and there are children from previous marriages. Any subsequent marriage may result in a future estate dispute between the stepparent and the children. It is therefore important to have updated succession documentation. If an estate is being distributed in a way that may cause controversy among potential beneficiaries, or if a will is being changed to exclude beneficiaries, it is important to leave no doubts as to the validity of the will. If there are any doubts, it may jeopardize the distribution of the estate and cause significant delays and legal fees. It will be interesting to see what happens in this dispute.

More on the Bellingham estate dispute here.