A recent case demonstrated that challenging a will that may have been made under undue influence can be very difficult to prove, even where confusion and even inebriation may have affected the person making the will.
A Granddaughter challenged her Grand Mothers will alleging that it was made whilst under the ‘undue influence’ of her Grand Mothers neighbour in order that he would benefit from the will.
The neighbour had been present when the solicitor visited the woman to take her instructions for the will and she referred to him for guidance. She also showed a significant degree of forgetfulness and confusion, to the extent that the solicitor wished to obtain a doctor’s opinion on her mental capacity to make a will.The woman later contacted the solicitor, saying that she did not want to see a doctor and no longer wished to go ahead with making the will. Her neighbour later telephoned the firm to confirm this. It was the view of the solicitor that the neighbour was involved in that decision.
She then found a new solicitor, who prepared a will for her that passed her entire estate to her neighbour.
When the will was challenged in court, evidence was produced that the woman had been taking a cocktail of drugs and also drank heavily. She was normally inebriated by mid-morning and also suffered from confusion.
Despite these circumstances, surprisingly, the judge ruled that there was ‘no arguable case’ that the neighbour had exercised undue influence over the woman and rejected the challenge to the will.
The case shows how high the hurdle is that has to be overcome in order to demonstrate that a will has been procured by undue influence.
Newnham & Jordan Solicitors are regulated, professional wills and probate solicitors in Bournemouth, Poole and the local area. For help with making a Will or amending an existing one we offer home appointments and a cost effective service. Contact us on 0845 680 7871 or via the online form
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