Executrices win Freud will tussle

Lucian Freud, in a self-portrait

Lucian Freud, in a self-portrait

First published in National News © by

The executrices of artist Lucian Freud's £96 million estate have won a High Court dispute over his will against one of his 14 children.

Diana Rawstron, his solicitor for 25 years, and Rose Pearce, one of his daughters, asked for a legal declaration that a provision of the 2006 will made them absolutely entitled to Freud's residuary estate - the part that remains after all gifts, bequests and claims have been satisfied.

In the case of Freud, who died in July 2011 aged 88, this amounted to about £42 million - after payment of legacies and inheritance tax but before administration expenses.

Giving his ruling in London, Deputy Judge Richard Spearman said that in his long and successful life, Freud achieved international recognition as an outstanding painter and draughtsman and also lived a very full private life.

He added that, although at one time disputed by Ms Rawstron and Ms Pearce, it was accepted, at least for these proceedings, that the defendant, Paul McAdam Freud, was another of the artist's children, who numbered "at least 14".

Ms Rawstron and Ms Pearce also contended that the gift of residue was subject to a trust imposed by Freud but they did not disclose its terms.

The judge said: "Indeed, one of their purposes in taking the course that they have adopted in these proceedings is to avoid revealing the terms of that trust to the defendant, on the basis this would go against Lucian Freud's wishes. However they have informed the defendant that he is not a beneficiary of the trust.

"The defendant's case is that, on a proper construction of the will, Lucian Freud's residuary estate was not given to the claimants for their absolute benefit, but instead was given to them to hold on trusts which are not set out in the will.

"On that basis, any trust imposed on the residuary estate can only have been a half secret trust."

He added that, because of the different requirements for creation of a valid half secret trust in comparison to a fully secret trust, Paul Freud would then wish to explore whether any valid half secret trust was created or whether there was an intestacy of the residue - which would mean he would be entitled to a share of it.

But, if Ms Rawstron and Ms Pearce were right, his only claim for provision from the estate arose under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

The judge concluded that, in the light of the natural and ordinary meaning of the words used in the relevant clause of the will, the will's overall purpose, its other provisions, the material factual matrix when it was made and common sense, the interpretation put forward by Ms Rawstron and Ms Pearce was to be preferred and their claim succeeded.

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