A man has been jailed for 18 years after killing his brother following an intense inheritance dispute.
According to Direct Line research, the number of Wills and probate disputes making their way to HM Courts and Tribunals system increased by 6% in 2018. However, enraged that he had been omitted from his father’s Will following his death in 2015, Richard Martin, 53, took matters into his own hands by killing his brother and claiming the property as his own rather than applying for redress through the courts.
Richard Martin had a difficult relationship with his brother John and their father. After their mother died in 2012, this resulted in Mr Martin demanding that Richard leave the Hemel Hempstead family home where the whole family had lived together since 1971.
At a time after the family family argument, Mr Martin withdrew his youngest son from his Will. John subsequently inherited the £500,000 property and the remainder of the estate when their father died in 2015.
Richard Martin, irate at being left out of the Will, claimed that it was forged by his older brother John, 55.
Having stewed in anger for over three years and armed with a metal bar, Richard Martin left his house on his 53rdbirthday, June 9th 2018, with the intention of evicting his brother.
Instead, following a brief and bitter confrontation, Richard bludgeoned his older brother to death before placing his remains in the family shed.
Richard Martin then spent a number of days moving his belongings into the house and walking the family dog.
Suspicions were raised when the usually punctual John Martin failed to turn up for a tennis match. After an initial police visit, Richard Martin confessed to his crimes and has since been sentenced to a minimum jail term of 18 years.
Whilst many disgruntled beneficiaries may not resort to violence or murder, contentious probate is on the rise. The research, carried out by Direct Line Life Insurance, also highlighted that HM Courts and Tribunals received 8,159 caveats to block or amend a grant of probate last year alone.
Additionally, 12.6 million people would be prepared to circumvent a loved ones Will if they feel it does not represent the true feelings and wishes of the deceased.
Detective Inspector Phil Moss from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said:
“Richard has never shown any remorse for the pre-meditated murder of his brother and, after beating John to death, continued as normal – going to work, visiting his local pub and visiting the cinema with a friend.
“He even began moving into the house, which he believed he had a claim to, and slept there at night following John’s death.
“Due to the aggravating factor of Richard killing John for his own gain, the Judge has handed down a significant sentence, which means Richard will be in prison well into his old age.”
Cases like this, and the rise in contested Wills, emphasise the importance of communication between donor and beneficiary on the contents of the Will. Failing to warn the beneficiaries of the inheritance, or lack of it, they should expect could exacerbate the feelings of those concerned.
24 October 2019
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