French probate v English probate dispute for Matthews estate
Once more, the issue of owning foreign property has led to an overseas probate dispute, which has arisen after the death of British food millionaire, Bernard Matthews.
In addition to English assets, the late Mr Matthews also owned a £12m villa in the south of France. After his death, it was his long term French mistress who was originally to inherit the villa – his adopted children were not named as beneficiaries, but instead claimed their right to the property under French inheritance law, despite specific written instructions to the contrary, given by their deceased father.
Once they had secured the villa, the three children in question then went on to contest the £2m inheritance tax bill they received on the property, declaring that the funds should be paid from their late father’s English estate – a move which would see their tax liability discharged.
The High Court however, ruled that the children had no right under the English will to take this action, given that Mr Matthews had not wanted them to inherit the villa in the first place.