Sadly, an accusation of coercion or undue influence of one person on another is not unusual, but an accusation of fraud is less common. In the following case the judge discovered that there had been undue influence by one sister against the other which resulted in the mother disinheriting her.
The daughter who was sole beneficiary, executor and trustee asked a judge to validate the Will the mother made just two days before her death. The other daughter opposed this believing that her sister had manipulated their mother, thereby alienating her fraudulently.
The judge agreed, and that the mother had intended to split her estate in as equal shares as possible between the two sisters. However, the daughter had alleged false misbehaviour and actions which included stealing her mother’s things and suggesting she was suffering from mental health problems, thereby painting her sister in a bad light. The daughter was regarded by the judge as an unreliable and untruthful witness, whose only concern was to get what she wanted regardless of anyone else.
The High Court refused the daughter permission to appeal on the basis that the accusations against her sister unduly influenced the mother to have an unfavourable opinion of the other sister and lead her to leave everything to one of her daughters. The sister had been aware of her mother’s vulnerability due to her illness and manipulated the situation fraudulently to her advantage.
Given the facts, the judge was correct in refusing to validate the Will and declare that the mother had died intestate.
If you would like more information on the subject of making a Will then please contact us by telephone at our Corby office on 01536 276300 or call our Kettering office on 01536 311690 or simply get in touch online by clicking here.