When you draw up your will, it should reflect your true wishes and not be unduly influenced by other people.
It if later turns out that you were pressurised by someone trying gain a share of your estate then the will may be overturned by the courts.
This happened recently in a case involving an elderly woman and her extended family. In 2005, she made a will leaving most of her estate to her two stepsons. However in 2008, she made a new will leaving nearly all of her estate to the daughters of a distant relative. Her stepsons were to receive only £10,000 each.
When she died, the stepsons challenged the will saying the relative had exerted undue influence on their stepmother at a time when she was physically and mentally frail following the death of her husband. The court heard evidence that the relative had lost a large amount of money following the collapse of an Icelandic bank and needed to recover his losses.
He began to pressurise the woman to change her will in favour of his three children. The pressure became so intense that she eventually stopped taking his phone calls.
The judge held that there was cogent evidence that pressure from the relative had worn the woman down so much that she eventually agreed to his demands in order to have a quiet life. There was no other reason why she would want to disinherit her stepsons with whom she got on very well.
These factors provided firm evidence that the updated will did not reflect her true wishes.
Please contact us for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.