British comedian Victoria Wood’s former spouse, comedy magician and actor Geoffrey Durham, is set to receive nothing from his ex-wife’s £9.3 million estate.
Durham, who goes by the stage name The Great Soprendo, wed Wood in 1980 and they were married for more than two decades before divorcing in 2002.
Nevertheless, they remained close friends and he was reportedly at Wood’s bedside when she died of cancer aged 62 in 2016.
Despite their good relationship, the Sun newspaper has revealed Wood failed to include Durham in her will. She instead used half her fortune to set up a charity in her name, with the remainder spread between friends and family.
Wood enjoyed great success in the UK, receiving 14 BAFTA nominations during her career and winning four. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, but kept her illness private.
The details of her will became known earlier this month after probate was granted.
The distribution of assets
Wood and her former husband had two children together, daughter Grace, 28, and son Henry, 24, who will jointly receive her £4 million London home. The siblings were also left a cottage in the Lake District provided they don’t sell the property.
Ten of Wood’s friends received sums ranging from £2,000 (AU$3,278) to 25,000, while her two sisters and one brother were bequeathed £50,000 each.
The comedian’s charity, the Victoria Wood Charitable Trust, will support a number of causes, including promoting arts and culture, tackling poverty, and helping young and disabled people.
It is unknown whether Durham intends to contest his former wife’s will, but former spouses are often eligible to do so.
In NSW, ex-spouses of the deceased can pursue a family provision claim if they feel they have not been adequately provided for.
Contesting a will in NSW
Inheritance disputes are more common with large estates, especially if the deceased didn’t leave a will.
A report released last year by the University of Queensland and several other institutions revealed that 83 per cent of partners or former partners of the deceased are successful when they contest a will.
However, individuals should seek the advice of experienced lawyers who can discuss eligibility issues and the likelihood of winning.