The son of a highly respected law lord is locked in a High Court fight over his £580,000 home, claiming his father’s memory was so bad when he made his will that he could not use his TV remote.
Sydney Templeman had dementia when he died aged 94 in 2014, leaving the disputed property, Mellowstone, near Exeter, to his step-daughters Sarah Edworthy and Jane Goss-Custard in a will signed six years earlier.
The former judge, hailed as one of the outstanding law lords of his generation, earned the nickname “Sid Vicious” due to his sharp intellect and quick ripostes.
But his son, barrister Michael Templeman, 68, claims his father’s dementia means his will should be ruled as invalid.
“His memory was not working well and he was not thinking clearly,” he told the High Court, saying his father needed notes to remind him of his finances when the will was made and regularly struggled with the TV remote.
However, Mrs Edworthy, 66, and Mrs Goss-Custard, 70, the daughters of Lord Templeman’s second wife Sheila, insist he was only “slightly forgetful” when he made the decisions about his estate.
Mr Templeman claims they should receive £18,000 each — as was set out in Lord Templeman’s previous will — and the estate should be split between him and his brother the Rev Peter Templeman.
Alexander Learmonth, representing the sisters, argued they are entitled to a stake in the property, which was “their family home” for more than 40 years and had been owned by their mother until her death in 2008.
The judge had sold his own home in Woking, Surrey, for £815,000 in 1997 and split the proceeds with his sons.
Mr Templeman said his step-sisters had already received a windfall from their mother and suggested his father had “forgotten” what he agreed with his wife over the estate.
Professor Robert Howard gave evidence that the judge was “very likely” to have had capacity to make the will, and at the time of his death the dementia was in the “mild to moderate” range.
If it is upheld, Mrs Edworthy and Mrs Goss-Custard will keep the proceeds of the sale of Mellowstone after tax and the brothers will split the remainder of the estate. The hearing continues.