Undue Influence: Tread carefully

Schomberg v Taylor demonstrates the high evidential burden of challenging a will under undue influence. Mark Keenan and David Hickmott explain ‘Where an allegation of undue influence is made, the burden of proof is on the party alleging the misconduct and the civil standard of the balance of probabilities applies.’ There are various grounds upon …
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Undue Influence: After Etridge

Nigel Thomas examines unconscionable bargains and presumed undue influence, with reference to Evans v Lloyd ‘This was a case of presumed undue influence and that being so then the claimants were required to prove (i) a relationship of trust and confidence and (ii) a transaction that calls for explanation.’ Some might be surprised that cases …
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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...

Re Devillebichot; Brennan v Prior & ors [2013] EWHC 2867 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | December 2013 #135

Francois Devillebichot (Francois) died on 3 March 2011. He made a will dated 19 February 2011. The proponents of the will were four of the defendants, while the claimant Mrs Chloe Brennan was Francois’ only child and sole heir under the intestacy rules. The will left £100,000 to Chloe, a studio flat in France to his sister Jacqueline and the residuary estate to his four siblings. After inheritance tax the net estate was £450,000.

Chloe alleged that her father was happy to die intestate in the knowledge that she would inherit his entire estate. Prior to the contested will he ...

Tociapski v Tociapski [2013] EWHC 1770 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | December 2013 #135

The claimant and defendant are the two sons of Mr Igor Tociapski (the deceased), who died on 12 March 2010 and had made a will dated 20 June 2007 and a later will dated 13 May 2009 (the 2009 will). The 2007 will shared the estate between the two sons. The 2009 will gave the entire estate to the defendant. By a transfer dated 12 February 2010 (the transfer), the deceased gave to the defendant a property known as Hillcrest Cottage, in Northamptonshire.

The claimant sought to set aside the 2009 will on the grounds that the deceased did not know and approve its contents alternatively...

Jeffery v Jeffery [2013] EWHC 1942 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | November 2013 #134

This was a retrial. The original trial in November 2012 was conducted in the absence of the defendant Andrew Jeffrey.

Daphne Jeffrey died in February 2010, aged 76, having divorced her husband David ten days before her death. She had two children – Nicholas and Andrew. She made a will in 2007 appointing Nicholas and Christopher Eyre (a friend left nothing in the will) as her executors and leaving her estate between Nicholas and Andrew’s three children. Prior to that she had made wills in 1982, 2002 and 2004. In 2008 she gifted two properties to Nicholas.

David and Daphne se...

Schomberg & ors v Taylor & ors [2013] EWHC 2269 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | October 2013 #133

The testatrix (W) was the second wife of the late Brian Taylor (H) and had two step sons, David (D) and Paul (P), the first and second defendants. She had a sister, Penny, who married the eighth defendant, Mr Bruce Peskin (B), and who had three children, the fifth to seventh defendants, Cindy, Andrew and Dominic (the 2008 beneficiaries). W and H visited Penny and B, until a few years before they died. They stopped doing so after B, who was in financial difficulties, repeatedly pressurised them to obtain financial assistance in relation to a property development and sale. As a result of t...

Evans & ors v Lloyd & anr [2013] EWHC 1725 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | September 2013 #132

Wynne Evans (Wynne) died on 2 September 2006 at the age of 79. He had worked on a farm from the age of 14. The farm latterly belonged to the defendants, David Lloyd (David) and his wife Elizabeth Lloyd (Elizabeth). Previously it had belonged to David’s parents and grandparents.

There was an issue as to whether Wynne had died testate or intestate. The claimants argued he died intestate but the defendants argued that he died testate and that the will, of which David was residuary beneficiary, had been lost.

The first claimant Howell Evans (Howell) is Wynne’s sole ...

Schrader v Schrader [2013] EWHC 466 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | May 2013 #129

Jessica Schrader (the testatrix) died a widow aged 98. The testatrix’s two sons, the claimant (Nick) and the defendant (Bill), survived her.

By a will dated 1 October 1990 (the 1990 will), drafted by a firm of solicitors, the testatrix had made specific gifts of shares and savings bonds to her grandchildren and thereafter left her residue (on her husband having predeceased) to Nick and Bill in equal shares absolutely.

However, in or about May 2005, the testatrix suffered a fall and Nick moved into the testatrix’s property to act as her carer. On 12 April 2006, a further wil...

DL v A Local Authority & ors [2012] EWCA Civ 253

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | December 2012 #125

Mr and Mrs L were an elderly married couple who, at the relevant time, were living with DL, their middle aged son, in the family home. Neither were at that time incapable, by reason of any impairment of, or disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain, of managing their own affairs within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). However, the local authority, which was concerned about alleged threatening and controlling behaviour on the part of DL, sought and obtained injunctive relief to protect Mr and Mrs L. Evidence obtained by the official solicitor concluded that bo...