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  • Writer's pictureEmma Aslett

Wills & Probate | A Deathbed Will Leads To A Dispute With The British Astronomical Association

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

A deathbed Will has led to a dispute with the British Astronomical Association (BAA) as an astronomer has left £400,000 to his “best mate” who nobody knows.

Roy Panther, who discovered the Comet Panther in the 1980s by using a homemade telescope, died in 2016 at the age of 90.

He wrote a Will in 1986 whereby he left some money to his two friends and the rest of his estate was left to the BAA. On his deathbed, Mr Panther wrote another Will and left everything to his “best mate” but did not specify the name of the friend.

Alan Gibbs claims to be a lifelong friend of Mr Panther and took the matter to Court.

The BAA have said that Mr Panther’s deathbed Will cannot be valid as he did not have capacity when writing the Will in the hospital, that he was suffering from dementia at the time and that the reference of “best mate” with no name is not sufficient for Mr Gibbs to inherit the estate.

It will be interesting to see what happens at the trial which is set to take place later this year.

This is a prime reason why you should make sure your Will is drafted properly! I imagine there were a few people claiming to be the “best mate”, leaving the actual “best mate” in difficulty.

The case of Roy Panther's deathbed Will is a reminder that even the most straightforward of Wills can lead to legal disputes and complications. Therefore, it is vital to seek professional legal advice when drafting your Will and ensure that it is clear, unambiguous, and legally valid.

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The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute professional advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal, accountancy or financial advice as appropriate on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor, Accountant or Financial Advisor/Mortgage Broker before you embark on any course of action.


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