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Contesting a Will on lack of capacity and undue influence

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One of the most common disputes I come across as a solicitor specialising in inheritance disputes and contested Wills, are when a disappointed family member wants to challenge a Will on the basis that the deceased did not have sufficient mental capacity to make it, or was subjected to undue influence into changing it.

A very good example of this is a case I spotted reported in the news this week, in the High Court, where a man has started a court case against his twin sister, to contest their late mother’s Will.  Robert Simon has reportedly accused his sister Hilary Woolley of telling their brother to write to their mother and persuade her to change her Will, excluding him from his expected £2m share in the estate, and a controlling interest in a family business.

Their mother had made a will in 1996 which left Robert a large majority of the estate. However, in 2005, at the age of 88, she then made another Will, leaving her estate to be split between all of the siblings.  The new Will was made, and signed at, their mother’s 88th birthday party, which Robert did not attend.  Robert’s legal team have argued that his mother was suffering from dementia when the later Will was made, and that she therefore did not have sufficient mental capacity to make it, or was easily and unduly influenced into changing it. They are arguing that the Will is therefore not valid on this basis.

The case is continuing in the High Court and I will be very interested in what the Judge decides. These types of cases always depend on the different circumstances and evidence that each party can produce. Anyone facing this kind of inheritance dispute with their family members, or wishing to contest a will for any other reason, should always seek specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity. I am a solicitor and member of ACTAPS – the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists. I am therefore a qualified specialist in these types of disputes, and can provide you with quick expert advice in relation to your case.

By solicitor, Heather Korwin-Szymanowska

  • For a fixed fee of £49.95, you can have a 30 minute appointment with either Heather, or another solicitor who specialises in your kind of case.  The appointment can be either on the telephone, or face to face, depending on your preference.  We will take some details from you before the appointment, and then the solicitor will discuss your case with you, and what your options are.  If your case is something that we can then help you further with, we can then discuss your funding options with you.