Three brothers have failed in their bid to overturn their mother’s will, which left nearly all her estate to their sister.
The mother had originally made a will dividing her estate equally between her four children. However, her views changed after her health began to deteriorate in 2009 and her daughter came to live with her as her carer until she died in 2016.
The brothers offered only limited help during this period and so in 2015, the mother made a second will, which left £1,000 to each of her sons and the rest of her estate to the sister.
The main asset was the mother’s house, which was worth approximately £750,000. The will contained a declaration which stated: “”I declare that my sons do not help with my care and there have been numerous calls from me but they are not engaging with any help or assistance. My sons have not taken care of me and my daughter has been my sole carer for many years.
“Hence should any of my sons challenge my estate I wish my executors to defend any such claim as they are not dependent on me and I do not wish for them to share in my estate save what I have stated in this Will.””
The mother’s solicitor had obtained a medical report confirming her mental capacity was sound before the will was signed. The doctor was also a witness to the mother’s signing of the will.
The brothers mounted a challenge saying their mother had only a limited knowledge of English. They claimed that she did not know and approve of the contents of the will, which was procured by the sister’s undue influence and/or fraudulent calumny.
The High Court found in favour of the sister. It held that the mother had clear views of her own and could be strong-willed and determined. English was not her mother tongue, but she could speak to it a moderate standard and was capable of understanding what was said to her.
The evidence of her solicitor and doctor was compelling. It demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that the deceased knew and understood the effect and implications of the 2015 will and approved of its contents.
Please contact Benedict Smith if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.