Posted by Calum Campbell, Senior Associate
A Hard Nutt to Crack
The Court of Appeal recently dismissed claims by Christopher and Vivien Nutt alleging that their brother, Colin, had unduly influenced their mother into leaving him her home in her Will dated 2010. Mrs Nutt’s previous Will had divided her estate equally between her three children.
In 2004 Mrs Nutt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and later suffered a heart attack. From this point she was given a lot of help from all of her children. Colin claimed that he was her primary carer but his siblings disputed this.
In what the Court described as “a comprehensive attack on Colin’s character” his siblings alleged that Colin had been irrational or obsessive in his behaviour towards the family and that he had a domineering personality.
The Court reiterated that in undue influence cases, the burden is on the claimants to prove that the facts are inconsistent with any explanation other than that Mrs Nutt’s Will was the result of Colin’s undue influence.
The Court concluded that on the facts, the claimants had fallen well short of this. It also found that there were several reasons why Mrs Nutt may have decided to change her Will. The Court was highly unimpressed by Christopher and Vivien’s attempts at character assassination concluding that Colin had been “affectionate and attentive towards his mother”.
This case demonstrates the difficulty in bringing a claim for undue influence and the need for expert advice at an early stage.
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