Our client had a close relationship with her elderly aunt who had no children of her own. She came to us when her aunt died and her aunt’s other nieces and nephews challenged a will her aunt had made a few months before her death. Our client’s aunt had become unable to live on her own and so moved in with our client where she lived in the rural countryside, where our client provided all of the care her aunt needed. Our client’s aunt had always intended her estate (which was worth a very substantial sum) would benefit her nieces and nephews but she decided she wanted to update her will to include a larger legacy to our client to recognise the care she was providing. Our client helped her arrange for a local solicitor to visit her aunt at home, the solicitor also instructing an old age psychiatrist to assess capacity because of our her aunt’s advanced age.
She was found to have capacity and executed her will, but the will was challenged in any event, with the claimants claiming that their aunt had lacked testamentary capacity. They also claimed that the will had been procured by our client through undue influence, saying that our client had taken her aunt to live with her against her will and isolated her from friends and relatives. The claimants also made distressing allegations of criminal conduct, which resulted in a morning raid by police at our client’s home.
We obtained expert evidence on capacity and evidence from 10 witnesses, including the solicitor and psychiatrist, which was supportive of our client’s case. A month before the claim was listed for a 10 day trial the claim was settled at mediation, with the claimants agreeing to discontinue their claim in return for a contribution to their legal costs.