A solicitor has issued a warning to those considering contesting a will following a successful defence against claims of fraudulent calumny and undue influence made against her client.
A 99-year-old mother died and left her estate behind to one of her sons and her four grandchildren. However, she had four sons in total – three of which were left out of provisions of a revised will.
As a result, when the mother died, two of the brothers – the claimants – applied to set aside their late mother’s will, alleging that the Defendants told her lies persuaded her to change her will to cut them out before her death.
However, the High Court heard that the claimants had failed to establish undue influence on the part of the Defendants.
What’s more, it was revealed that the claimants had tried to claim that their mother lacked capacity and had a doctor assess her before her death – all whilst trying to appoint themselves as her attorneys – but third parties described the mother as “fiercely independent” and the doctor ruled that she had full mental capacity.
As a result, the mother revoked the two sons’ power of attorney and had a very strained relationship with them before her death.
In her own words, in the will revision, she said that they had “fell out” and she “did not want them to inherit from her estate”.
The court, referring to leading authorities, confirmed the requirements in order to prove undue influence and fraudulent calumny and upheld the validity of the will.
It was heard that the deceased had actually left the claimants out of her will as she wanted to and was not influenced to change it. The judgment will now allow the defendants to administer the estate in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.
Danielle Blaylock, an associate and solicitor at Jackson Lees, said:
“Whilst this case should never have got to trial given the unfounded accusations, it is a great result for our clients and a helpful reminder of the importance of evidence to back up what is being alleged.
It also shows the importance of what is required to support an allegation of undue influence and fraudulent calumny which the claimants were unable to substantiate.”