When an elderly and ill woman was put under continual pressure by her brother-in-law to change her will in favour of his children, whom she rarely saw, her resolve finally cracked and in a bid to have a quiet life, she instructed her lawyers to draw up a new will six months before her death.
The new will left the large bulk of the woman’s estate – more than £500,000 – to her brother-in-law’s children and just £10,000 each to her two stepsons, who stood to inherit her entire estate under her previous will.
The woman’s brother-in-law and his wife had financial problems as a result of a failed foreign property investment and the court heard that part of the reason for the pressure being put on the deceased was to secure their own financial futures.
The court found that when the woman changed her will she was in a ‘fragile’ physical and mental state and that the changes had been made as a result of undue influence being put on her by her brother-in-law.
Unusually given the sum at stake, when the dead woman’s two stepsons brought the action in court, it was not opposed by her nephews and niece, nor by her brother-in-law.
Accordingly, the court ruled that the new will was invalid and the woman’s previous will should be determined to be her final will.