Wills: Crossing a line

Brendan Cotter considers how likely a claim against a testamentary predator is to succeed ‘The classic sign of undue influence is the main beneficiary being active in the preparation of a will in which they take a substantial benefit.’As Hilaire Belloc wrote in Dedicatory Ode 1910: ‘The question’s very much too wide, and much too …
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Poole & anr v Everall & anr [2016] EWHC 2126 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | November 2016 #164

This was a challenge to the formal and substantial validity of the last will of David Poole (the testator) dated 26 December 2012 (the December will) on the grounds of want of due execution, want of knowledge and approval, lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence.

The testator (who died on 19 March 2013) had suffered severe physical and psychiatric injuries following a motorcycle accident in 1985. The December will had been prepared by Mr Everall, the first respondent, who had been the testator’s paid carer/’supporting landlord’ since 1994. The December ...

Elliott v Simmonds & anr [2016] EWHC 732 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | October 2016 #163

Kenneth William Jordan (Mr Jordan) died on 4 August 2012 leaving a wife (from whom he was estranged) and two adult children. The claimant was Mr Jordan’s partner during the last years of his life and the first defendant was his daughter from a relationship that predated his marriage. He had previously made a will giving pecuniary legacies to the first defendant and two of his sisters with the residuary estate passing to the claimant. Subsequently, in January 2012, Mr Jordan gave instructions to Mr Mumford (who was his brother-in-law), a solicitor with the firm Melia Mumford, to make a ne...

Sharp v Hutchins [2015] EWHC 1240 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | September 2015 #152

Mr Butcher was born on 4 October 1939. He lived alone in a bungalow at 42 Russell Road, Enfield, London. He had no surviving parents and no children. He was close to his only sibling, Yvonne Butcher, with whom he lived. She died in 2002. Mr Butcher died on 5 May 2013 aged 73. He left a net estate worth £482,295.00. He was in good physical and mental health at the time of his death.

It was likely that in 1991 Mr Butcher had made a will which left his estate to Yvonne. In 2003, he made a new will following her death (‘the 2003 will’). He did so without the involvement of any profess...

Wills: One step, two step…

Araba Taylor examines Re Butcher [2015], a case that puts the principles of Gill v Woodall into practice ‘The single test comes into its own where the court has enough facts, expert opinions and other evidence to enable it to make findings as to how the will was prepared and/or executed.’ Before the CA decision …
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Walker & anr v Badmin & ors claim no HC121304229

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | April 2015 #148

Elizabeth Jane Walker (Mrs Walker) was born on 25 March 1956. She married John Walker in 1981, and with him she had two daughters, Jennifer and Alison. In 2007, she left her husband and began to live with Michael Badmin (Mr Badmin).

On 20 June 2009, Mrs Walker was diagnosed with a terminal, malignant brain tumour. Following the prescription of medication, she began to suffer from symptoms of psychosis. However, her condition gradually improved, and she was discharged from hospital on 20 July 2009. Mrs Walker’s health begun to deteriorate in Autumn 2009. By October, she was bed-bou...

Simon v Byford & ors [2014] EWCA Civ 280

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | July/August 2014 #141

The appeal dealt with the issue of whether the late Constance Simon (1) had testamentary capacity and (2) knew and approved her will she executed at or immediately after her 88th birthday party on 18 December 2005. The judge below answered the questions in the affirmative, on of Mrs Simon’s sons, Robert Simon appealed.

Mrs Simon had originally had four children, who each owned 24.99% of the shareholding in a family company. Mrs Simon owned the other 0.04% of the shares. Robert was the managing director. Her sons Hilary and Johnathan did not play a part in the business. Davi...

The Vegetarian Society v Scott [2013] EWHC 4097 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | April 2014 #138

This was a contentious probate action against all five of the wills of a schizophrenic testator. While he had benefitted from a stable and conventional childhood, the deceased had sustained serious injuries at the age of nineteen in a serious bicycle accident. He soon after succumbed to the symptoms of severe schizophrenia and logical thought disorder, from which he suffered for the remainder of his lifetime. His modes of living were unconventional. He lived alone on the fringes of society, and despite his considerable wealth, he lived in basic, if not squalid conditions. While it was ac...

Pearce v Beverley [2013] EWHC 2627 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | January/February 2014 #136

John Pearce (Mr Pearce) died on 23 July 2008. His daughter, the claimant, challenged the validity of a will purportedly made by Mr Pearce on 20 June 2007 (the will) on grounds of lack of capacity and want of knowledge and approval, and also challenged a number of lifetime transactions said to be procured by the defendant’s undue influence.

Mr Pearce’s second marriage broke down in 2004 and he consequently became lonely and depressed. His health was generally deteriorating. He suffered from partial kidney failure, which was first noted in March 2005, and by 2006 from s...

In the estate of Constance Rose Simon; Simon v Byford & ors [2013] EWHC 1490 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | November 2013 #134

Mrs Constance Rose Simon died on 15 January 2009 at the age of 91. She was the widow of Mr R W Simon, with whom she had four children: namely Jonathan, Robert, Hilary and David. David predeceased his mother on 1 November 2004.

Mrs Simon’s estate consisted of her house in St John’s Wood, London (valued at £1.75m), a flat in Westcliffe on Sea (valued at £262,500), savings and shares (worth £55,000), some land in Malta and 16 shares in R W Simon Ltd (the company).

By Mrs Simon’s will dated 23 March 1978, she had left her entire estate to her four children i...