Brothers in dispute over house left in their mother's will
The High Court has settled a dispute between two brothers after one accused the other of using undue influence to persuade their mother to leave him her house in her will.
The case involved an elderly woman who moved in with her son after her husband died. However, she later wanted to move back to her own home in Cornwall.
The house needed significant repairs, so she decided to transfer ownership to the son she lived with, believing it was necessary to enable him to carry out the work.
When she met with her solicitor she was informed that the joint tenancy would mean her son would own the house on her death, rather than her entire estate being shared equally between him and her other son.
She decided to go ahead with the transfer anyway, telling the solicitor that she planned to gift her other son extra money in lieu of a share in the property.
However, her relationship with the other son broke down and she did not put such an arrangement in place before she died in 2015.
The son who missed out took legal action against his brother, accusing him of unduly influencing their mother.
The judge ruled in favour of the son who inherited the house. The fact that a solicitor had independently advised the mother of the transfer's effect, and she had understood that advice before going ahead, sufficiently showed that her decision was fully informed and freely made.
Please contact Benedict Smith if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of wills and probate.