London – A ‘spendthrift’ son who inherited his millionaire father’s antique harp, but not a penny of his cash, is caught up in a bitter legal tussle over the will.
Musician Jack Hayward triggered a family war when he left the lion’s share of his £1.3 million fortune to his daughter Fiona.
Now his son Iain is challenging his will at London’s High Court, accusing his sister of poisoning their father’s mind against him before his death.
Hayward senior, who ran a successful harp sale and insurance business for many years as well as playing professionally, signed the will in 2013, five months before his death from cancer, aged 81.
His 54-year-old son received the ‘prized’ 19th century instrument, as well as the remains of his father’s firm – much of which he owned already – and a few pictures and manuscripts.
By contrast, his daughter, Fiona Kunicki, 49, received £500 000 from his estate, with the remainder of his fortune split between his five grandchildren, Judge Jonathan Klein QC heard.
Iain Hayward’s daughters, Yasmin and Sarah, got a slice of their grandfather’s fortune but not their father. He says the harp, the work of pioneering French instrument maker Sébastien Érard, is worth no more than £3,000.
He claims his father was behaving ‘erratically and unreasonably’ in the months before he died and was incapable of making a valid will.
His barrister, Owen Curry, said Hayward sr had turned against his son in his final months, irrationally blaming him for a range of ills, such as problems with his heating and the disappearance of his iPad.
The musician’s beliefs were ‘without substance’, said the barrister, also accusing Kunicki of being ‘involved in convincing her father that Iain had behaved poorly’. At one point Kunicki sent her father an email branding her brother ‘a chancer who, given the opportunity, may take more than he is entitled to’, the court heard.
At the time her brother was involved in dealing with the estate of their mother, Patricia, who died in 2008 from Alzheimer’s.
Kunicki, of Tilehurst, Reading, also faces claims that she cut a deal with her brother after ‘falling out’ with their ‘difficult and temperamental’ father in 2007.
But she denies that there was a pact to split the inheritance with her brother, although accepting that they agreed to help each other out. And Kunicki’s barrister, Edward Hewitt, said all the evidence showed Hayward senior’s mind was functioning clearly when he made the disputed will. ‘Iain’s challenge simply doesn’t get off the ground,’ he told the court.
Hayward was genuinely aggrieved with his son, and this had nothing whatever to do with Kunicki, the barrister insisted.
‘There was evidence the musician viewed his son as a ‘spendthrift’ and someone who ‘spent his money rashly’, Hewitt added.
Hayward senior was declared of sound mind by his GP before making his will, the court heard, and received professional legal advice.
He even ‘anticipated’ his son’s bitter opposition, telling his solicitor that ‘he feared his son will be very angry with the way he wishes to distribute his estate’.
Judge Klein will give his ruling at a later date.