A family have succeeded in their battle to overturn their brother’s will, which left nearly all his estate to his live-in carer.
The issue arose after the brother was involved in an accident that resulted in him having to spend time in a mental health hospital. He made a will dividing his assets between his siblings, their children, his partner and several charities.
On leaving hospital, he required the services of a live-in carer. Within a few months, he made a new will leaving 95% of his estate to the carer. He died shortly afterwards.
The family challenged the will on the basis that it had been made without the brother’s knowledge and approval.
The court ruled that the will had apparently been correctly drawn up, but there was a question as to whether the brother had sufficiently understood its contents and effects.
Particular caution was required where a will was prepared by a person who stood to benefit from it.
The brother was a vulnerable and suggestible person. He made a will in which the great bulk of his estate was given to a person on whom he had been dependent for his care, and the will was drafted by that same person.
The concerns were magnified because previous gifts to family members and charities were removed altogether. The evidence that he fully understood the will came only from the carer and was self-serving.
There was a substantial risk that the carer had sought to pursue his own interests. He had used his relationship with the brother to isolate him from others, with the motive of removing the influence of those who questioned his actions. He had failed to discharge the burden of showing that the brother knew and approved of the will’s terms, and so it was not valid.
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