We were recently instructed by a client to make investigations as to the validity of the Will on the basis that they were excluded. They were a child of the deceased, prior to their death the deceased was not married, nor did they have any other children. The deceased left their entire estate to an individual who was a distant relative. Our client was estranged from the deceased however, they believed that in any event the deceased would want them to benefit from the estate rather than the named beneficiary. Therefore our client believed that it was out of character for the deceased to name their relative as the executor and sole beneficiary of the estate rather than themselves. Our client believed that the defendant exerted pressure over the deceased throughout the later stages of their life. Our client therefore wanted to contest the Will on the grounds of undue influence.
Finding the evidence
Upon investigation, our client was advised that there it was going to be a difficult claim to prove. Often, where an individual seeks to challenge the validity of the Will on the basis of coercion or undue influence, there not only needs to vulnerability on behalf of the Deceased and therefore concerns as to their capacity which can be demonstrated by medical evidence, but there also needs to be evidence that pressure exerted by the defendant. This can be difficult to obtain evidence of this, due to the fact that such things tend to happen behind closed doors.
Weighing it up
The Will was not set aside, instead our client weighed up the merits of their claim alongside the possible risks that the matter goes to court. Not only is the process of going to court extremely expensive, but further there is a real risk that a judge may rule in the either parties’ favour, this may also result in an order to pay the other party’s cost. Therefore, our client agreed to a settlement by way of a payment from the defendant for an agreed sum. Our client was extremely pleased with the outcome and to be relieved bring the matter to a swift conclusion.