Family fall out leads to legal battle for inheritance

When an elderly woman died and left her entire estate to her window cleaner, rather than the nephew who had looked after her for a very long period of time, a challenge to her Will was always likely.

The nephew claimed that the woman had promised to leave him her home and estate in exchange for him looking after her, to which end he visited her four times per week.

However, after she had a fall in 2005, her personality changed and she cut him out of her life, forming a friendship with her window cleaner and changing her Will to give him her entire estate.

Contesting the will in court, the nephew claimed that the woman ‘lacked testamentary capacity’ to make a valid Will and that her final Will was the result of undue influence being exerted by the window cleaner.

In support of his position, the nephew told the court that the woman had created a succession of Wills, was obsessive and was possibly paranoid in her final years.

Although the court rejected the claim that the Will was procured as a result of undue influence, it accepted that the woman lacked sufficient mental capacity to make a valid Will.

When the behaviour of an elderly person seems to be becoming erratic, it might be time to consider the use of a trust or other means to preserve family wealth. Contact us for advice on your individual circumstances.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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