Case of the dead man who sent a text

04 July 2011

The England & Wales High Court is now hearing the strange case of the late Owen Davies, formerly of Stratford upon Avon.

Mr Davies died suddenly in November 2008, in Paris where he had worked as a corporate lawyer since 2001. He had executed a will in 1996 leaving his entire GBP800,000 estate to his uncle, Clive Vernon Davies.

At the time of his death Mr Davies had been engaged to be married to a Belgian woman, Natalie de Vleeschauwer, who shared his Paris home during the working week. At weekends they stayed at her home in Belgium.

In the weeks after Mr Davies' death, it appears that his executor Adrian Morris and Miss de Vleeschauwer wound up his affairs without notifying his death to the rest of his family - including his mother, sister and two brothers. Only Uncle Clive knew that Owen had died.

In her submission to the High Court, Miss de Vleeschauwer claims that Owen Davies himself had given her instructions not to contact his family.

In the event, it was four months before the family heard of Mr Davies' death. They are now challenging the administration of the estate. They claim that the 1996 will, having been executed in the UK, is invalid because the deceased was domiciled in Belgium at his death.

If the High Court agrees, Belgian succession law will apply and the family will divide Owen Davies' estate among themselves.

A macabre episode of the case occurred during December 2008, a few weeks after Mr Davies' demise. His brother Adrian sent a text message to his mobile phone, asking if he would be coming to a family reunion at Christmas. "Not this year", came the texted reply. "There's a problem."

 

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